THE first piece of Sunderland’s most historic ship has set sail for Australia.
The rudder of the 150-year-old Wear-built City of Adelaide is now en route to its namesake city in South Australia.
The container ship carrying the rudder left Irvine in Ayrshire today in spite of objections from the Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation (Scarf).
Scarf members had hoped to derail the export of the rudder and thus hold up the transportation of the ship.
Jim Tildesley, former director of the Scottish Maritime Museum – now a consultant to the trustees – confirmed the first piece of the ship was on its way Downunder this afternoon.
He said: “The rudder is now on its way to Australia, having been treated to satisfy Australian quarantine regulations and controls by UK Authorities.
“It is the only part of the ship that is being transported separately, and it’s really a test run.”
The rudder has not been attached to the ship since the late 1980s, when it was moored in Glasgow.
The rest of the ship will be transported in a cradle built in Australia.
Sunderland campaigners had hoped to bring the clipper ship – a prerunner of the Cutty Sark – back to the Wear as a monument to Sunderland’s shipbuilding heritage.
But a Australian bid was selected by the Scottish Government as the best option for the future of the ship after a study by Historic Scotland.
The Adelaide was part of the Scottish Maritime Museum’s collection, but trustees were forced to dispose of the ship due to financial difficulties involved in keeping her.
The ship sat on a rented slipway, and the landlords wanted the property back for development. The museum was unable to obtain any funds to restore the ship and had been looking at dismantling the vessel.