THE City of Adelaide is on the move.
The world’s oldest surviving clipper ship, built in Sunderland, has been handed over to its new Australian owners.
The City of Adelaide has been kept on a slipway at Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine, North Ayrshire, since 1992 after sinking in the River Clyde the previous year.
The museum could not afford to refurbish the ship and applied to demolish it and save some of its parts.
The new owner, charitable organisation Clipper Ship City of Adelaide, led a successful campaign to save and relocate the ship, which will now become part of a new maritime heritage park in South Australia. The group beat a rival bid from The Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Fund (Scarf) to bring her home to Wearside.
The clipper’s papers were formally handed over at a ceremony at the museum’s Linthouse building yesterday before it begins the first leg of its 13,670-mile (22,000km) journey.
The A-listed structure was once regarded as unrecoverable, because of the silted river and protected wetland areas around its berth in Irvine, but engineers in Australia created a steel cradle to allow the ship to be rolled across a temporary bridge over the river surface and on to a low-draft barge.
The City of Adelaide is due to leave Scotland within days, depending on the weather.
But Scarf are still hopeful they can save the ship for Britain.
The Adelaide is due to spend some time on display on the Thames at Greenwich, where it will moor beside sister ship the Cutty Sark.
Scarf chairman Peter Maddison, who was in Irving yesterday, believes moving the ship to London will make a legal challenge to the Adelaide’s export easier.
“Scotland has its own legal system, something we were constantly frustrated by,” he said.
The group plans to lodge a formal objection to the Adelaide’s export, a move Peter believes will keep the ship in the UK well into next year.
“We will put this application in that we are very confident will be granted. The ship will be in Greenwich for six months.”
The move to Greenwich would also raise the campaign’s profile. The group has commissioned a copy of the Adelaide’s rudder, which has already been exported to Australia, and had intended to march to Scotland with it.
“Instead of marching the rudder to Scotland, we will be able to march it to Greenwich,” said Peter.