Pic: © Peter Roberts, CSCOAL

The Duke of Edinburgh is to preside at a renaming ceremony at Greenwich for the world’s oldest clipper tomorrow (October 18th).

City of Adelaide made the journey from Scotland to the Medway aboard a barge. She was later being towed upstream to Greenwich where she is to be moored alongside Cutty Sark and  is scheduled to eventually arrive in Port Adelaide between February and April next year.

Earlier this week (Oct 7th) there were question marks over funding for the voyage to Australia. Because of state elections it was unclear if the £500,000 needed for the journey would be forthcoming.

The Herald in Scotland quoted Peter Christopher, a director at the City of Adelaide Preservation Trust, as saying: "We'll have to see what happens. We just had the Australian elections three weeks ago, which brought in a new government.

"The $850.000 (£500.000) was committed by the former government so whether the money will come through is the new administration's decision to make. We will not be able to fund a contract for a heavy lift ship until the government find the money and give us a confirmation.

"But we hope it will come through before the renaming ceremony and that we can bring the ship to Australia next year."

The City of Adelaide arrived in Scotland when purchased by the Royal Navy in 1923, and was renamed HMS Carrick.  On October 18th a formal renaming ceremony will be held at Greenwich. No ceremony was held when she reverted to the name City of Adelaide.

The voyage to Australia marks a remarkable 14-year operation to save the ship, the only surviving purpose-built sailing ship to take migrants from Europe to Australia.  

After arriving in Scotland she became a landmark on the Clyde and after World War II became clubrooms for the Naval Reserve. After sinking in the 1980s she was an  insurance write-off.  

In 1992 she was rescued by the Scottish Maritime Museum and moved to a slipway in Irvine. Despite being listed in the National Register of Historic Ships, trustees were later forced to vacate the slipway.

The ship  was regarded as unrecoverable after being stranded for  many years in a heavily silted river.  The museum requested permission to demolish the A-Listed ship. That is until Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd, an Adelaide-based volunteer organisation stepped in.

It organised engineering firms across South Australia  to create a prefabricated steel cradle that would allow the ship to be rolled across a temporary bridge over river mudflats and onto a low-draft barge.

Weighing 100 tonnes and worth more than Aus$1.2million, the cradle was shipped to Scotland in five shipping containers, before being assembled and tested, and then disassembled again for installation beneath the 450 tonne clipper piece by piece.

In her sailing days she would have weighed 1500 tonnes. Originally - with jib-boom - she was 74 metres – 4 metres longer than a 747 aircraft. Built in 1864, five years before the Cutty Sark. She is one of only four surviving sailing ships to have taken emigrants from the British Isles to any destination in the world. She is the world’s fifth oldest surviving merchant ship.

Over a quarter of a century she carried thousands of migrants as she departed Greenwich for each of her 23 annual voyages South Australia. Today the descendants of her passengers can be found throughout Australia.

See pictures and video of her arrival at Chatham by Rob Powell of River Thames Pix HERE

Selection of earlier videos HERE

City of Adelaide website HERE

Story updated Oct 7th 2013