CHILDREN are taking part in an historical project that will see letters they write transported across the world.
The youngsters are getting involved in the City of Adelaide project which will establish links with schools in Southern Australia.
The clipper ship City of Adelaide was built by shipworkers on Wearside in 1864 and has had a remarkable sailing history, starting life as a passenger vessel taking families to a new life on the other side of the world.
It plays a vital part in the creation of modern-day Australia and in the relationship between Britain and the Australian colonies.
It had always been hoped that the ship would be able to remain in the UK, with many Wearsiders campaigning to bring the vessel back to the city from its current location at Irvine, in Ayrshire.
However, despite a well-publicised campaign, the Scottish Government announced that an Australian group was preferred to move and restore the Adelaide Down Under.
Primary schools in Sunderland are this week expected to receive a special invitation from the Scottish and Australian co-ordinators of the project to take part in the new scheme.
Pupils will be asked to send letters to South Australia describing life in their area in the 1860’s when passengers would have made journeys on the vessel, or about how they live today.
The letters will then be carried on board the Adelaide as she makes her final journey to Port Adelaide, 148 years after she made her first voyage.
Arrangements have been made to have the letters delivered to an appropriate primary school in South Australia, the pupils of which will reply and establish links with the Sunderland schools.
Jim Tildesley, project co-ordinator with the Scottish Maritime Museum said: “We are using this historic ship to build up these cultural and historical links.
“We have selected areas from a certain number of the ship’s passages to send out invitations and the response has been very good.”
Schools taking part will receive regular project updates and after the vessel departs, progress reports will be sent throughout the voyage to Port Adelaide.
The Australian partner schools will then make contact to describe the arrival of the ship.