WORK has begun in earnest to transport Wearside’s most historic ship to Australia.
Engineers are busy working on the giant steel cradle which will support the 150-year-old City of Adelaide clipper ship down under.
A ceremony marking the start of work saw two Australians, whose ancestors were carried to Australia by the Wear-built ship, crack a bottle of champagne over the first part of the cradle.
The event took place at the premises of Samaras Structural Engineers, one of the firms donating both labour and materials to the Adelaide project.
General manager George Samaras said: “My family, like most South Australian families, migrated to South Australia some time ago, and being able to contribute to a project to save the last sailing migrant ship to South Australia is very appealing and something I wanted to do.
“South Australia has been good to my family, and it feels good being able to give something back to the South Australian community in this way.”
The champagne ceremony in Gillman, near Port Adelaide, was carried out by Pam Whittle, the great-granddaughter of the clipper’s first captain, David Bruce, and Marion Wells, the great-granddaughter of Matilda Methuen.
Miss Methuen migrated on the Adelaide’s maiden voyage to marry Peter Waite – one of South Australia’s greatest philanthropists.
The City of Adelaide is a predecessor of its more famous imitator the Cutty Sark. It sits on a rented slipway in Irvine on the west coast of Scotland.
Its owner, the Scottish Maritime Museum, cannot afford to restore the ship – and must move the clipper as the slipway’s owner wants the land back.
Campaigners in Sunderland fought hard to bring the ship back to the Wear as a monument to the city’s shipbuilding heritage, but the Scottish Government selected the Australian team as its preferred bidder.
A quarter of a million living descendants can trace their origins to passengers who sailed on the City of Adelaide.
The cradle project is being jointly donated by more than 15 engineering firms around Adelaide and rural South Australia.
Creagh O’Connor, chairman of the City of Adelaide Preservation Trust, said: “We are encouraged by the support being provided, and we are very pleased with the ever increasing number of companies offering money or in-kind support.”