CAMPAIGNERS hoping to bring the world’s oldest surviving clipper ship back to Sunderland say the fight is far from over.
The City of Adelaide was built in Sunderland in 1864, but a consortium from Australia won permission to take the ship Down Under to become a tourist attraction.
The vessel, a grade A-listed ship, arrived in Greenwich in London on Thursday night to be moored alongside the Cutty Sark, and yesterday The Duke of Edinburgh carried out its official renaming ceremony.
Although the clipper’s name was reverted to City of Adelaide in 2001, an official ceremony was never held.
Peter Maddison, from Scarf, The Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Fund, which has fought to bring the ship back home, said he is positive this will be a turning point in the campaign.
He said: “When it came into Greenwich on Thursday night it was amazing. It was an absolutely wonderful sight, she is looking beautiful.
“We were there with our banner and giving out information leaflets and literally hundreds of people were asking us what it was all about.
“The place was packed with national press and I really do believe that now she is centre of attention herself and no longer the Cinderella sister to the Cutty Sark, everyone will understand her huge historical value.
“It would be a national disgrace if something so precious and important to our great maritime history was allowed to be exported.”
While in London, members of Scarf submitted official objections to the vessel being exported, to the Arts Council and HMRC, which they must investigate.
Peter said City of Adelaide will need to remain in Europe for several months for decontamination, which will hopefully give them time to have the potential export overturned.
Last month, an export ban was placed on a gold ring which belonged to writer Jane Austen after it was bought by US singer Kelly Clarkson, and Peter says he hopes the same will happen with City of Adelaide which, he says, is just as much, if not more, of a national treasure.
Prince Philip, who rose to the ranks of a commander in the Royal Navy, has been involved in the project to save the ship, which has been left a shell without its sails, rudder and fittings.
The naming ceremony was led by marine engineer Andrew Chapman, whose great-great-grandfather travelled from Adelaide with his family on the ship back to his native England for a holiday in 1869.
Mr Chapman began by burning the clipper’s old name Carrick, written on a piece of paper.
The ashes were thrown into the Thames – to purge its name from the “ledger of the deep” – and then a bottle a champagne was poured on to the foreshore.
Four glasses of bubbly were kept and each was thrown to the four winds –north, east, south and west.
The Duke could not help laughing, and when a glass of bubbly was about to be thrown in his direction he moved backwards in his seat and watched intently but he was spared a shower of alcohol.
THE City of Adelaide made 23 passenger voyages to South Australia between 1864 and 1886.
It carried migrants as they headed to start a new life Down Under, with the journeys from London lasting 65 days.
In 1893 the vessel became a hospital ship, but in 1924 was converted into a training ship at Irvine, and renamed HMS Carrick and in 1991 the ship sank at the Princes Dock, Glasgow, and lay on the bottom of the River Clyde for a year before being raised.
It lay rotting for years on a slipway at the Scottish Maritime Museum, with the cost of repairs put in excess of £10million.
The Australian charity, Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd (CSCOAL), took control of the ship in 2010.