landmark on Clyde
Street in Glasgow
for many years, the clipper Carrick
is now rotting at the Scottish
Maritime Museum in Irvine on the Firth of Clyde. Gordon Neish
at the vessel’s past – and asks if she has a future. It is almost
unbelievable that a clipper five years the senior of Cutty Sark is
being allowed to rot on a slipway in Scotland, but that is the
fate of the City of Adelaide, also known as Carrick.
City of Adelaide was built by William Pile, Hay and Company of
Sunderland in 1864 of composite construction, with timber planking
on a wrought iron frame. From 1864 to 1886, the vessel ran a fast liner
service between London, Plymouth and Adelaide, making approximately
one round the world voyage every year. Purpose built to serve the
passenger trade, City of Adelaide played an important role in the
development of the colony of South Australia for nearly a quarter of a
She carried all classes of passengers - and
her first class cabins were considered to be among the finest of the
sailing ship era. Her glory days came to a sudden end,
however. In 1887 the vessel was sold to a Dover merchant to carry coals
from the Tyne to the Thames. The following year she was sold to a
Belfast timber merchant and, until 1893, worked in the North Atlantic
bulk timber trade bringing wood into Glasgow,
Belfast and Dublin.
1893, whilst in Bowling
on the Clyde, she was acquired by the
Corporation of the
City of Southampton,
demasted and converted to a hospital isolation ship.
Large windows were cut into the ’tween deck to bring light into
the ward. This ended her sailing days.
purchased by the Admiralty in 1923. As there was already an HMS
Adelaide she was named HMS Carrick after refit in Irvine and towed to
Greenock to be used as a Royal Navy Reserve drill ship.
Carrick at Greenock
1956 she was presented to the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) Club
of Scotland and moved up the Clyde to Glasgow
city centre, where she
was tethered off Clyde
Street, now named, simply, Carrick. Here she
became a local landmark, her decks and internal floors polished to
their once-high standard. People once again aspired to board the vessel.
will confess to being one of many skint-kneed weans told by the
uniformed commissionaire to “beat it” after attempting to steal a peek
at her plush interior. By the mid-1980s the RNVR realised that it could
not afford to maintain its floating clubrooms. Members sought ways to
secure her future and decided to give up ownership. Various bodies were
approached, including the newly-established Scottish
1990 the club gave the vessel to the
Clyde Ship Trust, who moved her to Prince’s Dock where, a year later,
she sank at her moorings. In 1992, with the encouragement
of Historic Scotland and Strathclyde Regional Council, the ship was
raised by the Scottish Maritime Museum and towed to Irvine. She was
placed on the same slipway as her conversion to HMS Carrick 69 years
political reasons restoration funding did not materialise and, in May
2000 the trustees of the Scottish Maritime Museum applied to
North Ayshire Council for consent to demolish the ‘listed building’
City of Adelaide. After over 100 letters of objection the council
refused permission to demolish, leaving the museum with a headache as
slipway rental continued to accrue.
In 2003 a
businessman donated funds to keep the structure watertight while the
feasibility of restoring the vessel as a tourist adventure sailing ship
was explored. The study concluded that the cost to comply with maritime
passenger safety regulations would make restoration more
expensive than building a replica. The businessman withdrew his
interest, leaving the museum with its original predicament. It again
applied to the council to demolish the structure.
over 130 letters of objection the council this time agreed to
deconstruction subject to conditions but, after the disastrous fire on
the Cutty Sark, the only other clipper of the period in the UK, the
2007 meeting to discuss City of Adelaide’s fate never took place. The
matter was referred to the Scottish government, which in March this
year announced that it is giving thought to four proposals for the
vessel’s future. She will either: Be removed to Sunderland to be
restored; be removed to Adelaide, Australia to be restored; be
moved elsewhere in Scotland; or be deconstructed.
historical view of The City of Adelaide / HMS Carrick
skint-kneed wean, now a little older but not much wiser,would still
like to steal a peek at the interior of the Carrick – and hopes one day
to be able to do so. However, given the lack of emphasis on maritime
heritage outside the south east of England - where Cutty Sark
hugely popular attraction - he is not holding his breath.