A NATIONAL archaeological group is backing calls to stop the world’s oldest surviving clipper ship being moved to Australia.
The City of Adelaide has lain on a slipway in Ayrshire, Scotland, for more than a decade, but is due to be moved Down Under.
Now the Rescue the British Archaeological Trust claims the vessel, which was built in Sunderland in 1864 and is five years older than the Cutty Sark, should stay in the UK for the “public good”.
Pamela Irving, editor of the group’s Rescue News publication, said: “This is a unique and important heritage asset which should be up there with Nelson’s Victory, the Mary Rose, the SS Great Britain and the Adelaide’s younger offspring the Cutty Sark.
“All of these have been successfully saved preserved for the public good in the UK.
“The Adelaide has been for 20 years in the collections of a national museum and with the help and support of the great and the good of the maritime heritage community, which it has sadly lacked to date, the City of Adelaide could be up there with its peers as a proud monument to British shipbuilding and maritime prowess and a viable visitor attraction.”
Earlier this week, campaigner Peter Maddison, from Ashbrooke, Sunderland, boarded the ship in a bid to have it brought back to the city.
The former councillor launched a similar demonstration in 2009 when it was threatened with being scrapped and is continuing his efforts to bring it back to the city’s port.
He believes it could be used to create a heritage attraction.
Although Rescue, which is committed to the protection, conservation, recording and interpretation of archaeological evidence, doubts the Wearside plan would represent a “deliverable solution to the preservation of the ship”, it supports calls to have it kept in the UK.
“There are genuine national concerns about the fate of the ship which should be raised,” said Ms Irving.
She added: “While the cost and professional expertise required to preserve it should not be underestimated, it should not be shipped off to obscurity for curation by a well intentioned, but underfunded group of amateur enthusiasts with the help of significant British taxpayers money, if a viable UK based solution can be found for it instead.”