City of Adelaide

Clipper built 1864 by Pile & Hay, William, Sunderland

Ensign House flag



Passenger Vessel

Emigrant Ship



Museum: laid up


Overseas Watch List





Web site








To be confirmed

33.21 feet (10.13 metres)

176.56 feet (53.85 metres)

18.49 feet (5.64 metres)



Adelaide, South Australia was laid out in 1837 and named in honour of Queen Adelaide, consort of William IV. The new community prospered and, before telegraphic communication and the railways, shipping formed the sole avenue of commercial intercourse for passenger travel and movement of goods.

A regular visitor to the region was Captain David Bruce, in the 398 ton barque IRENE. In partnership with several others including London ship owner Mr Joseph Moore, Captain Bruce resolved to build “expressly for the trade a new vessel in which all the requirements his experience could suggest would be met”. His order was placed in 1863 with William Pile, Hay and Company of Sunderland, a foremost shipbuilder. Built under survey from Lloyd’s, the vessel was of composite construction.An iron frame was sheathed in a variety of timbers according to purpose, including English and American pine, German and English oak, yellow pine and Baltic red pine, and the external wooden structure was felted and yellow-metalled.

CITY OF ADELAIDE was equipped with Cunningham’s Patent Self-Reefing topsails and initially ship-rigged. A top-gallant forecastle provided accommodation for the seamen and aft a half-rounded poop of 57 feet from the stern to the main backstays accommodated the master, officers and first class passengers. Surviving drawings show a long saloon fitted with tables, seats, a sideboard and a pianoforte, flanked port and starboard by 14 cabins.

From 1864 to 1886, CITY OF ADELAIDE was managed by Messrs Devitt and Moore, agents for Duncan Dunbar and the Glasgow Loch Line. She ran a fast liner service between London and Adelaide, making approximately one round voyage every year, carrying general cargo outward, and up to 24 passengers. 18 of these were in first class, 6 in second on her maiden voyage and, when necessary, basic accommodation for emigrants was fitted out. A diary of the ship’s first passage, kept by 16 year-old Miss SA Bray survives and is held in the Strathclyde Archives, and at least two others from later voyages have also survived. Homeward bound, cargoes included typical South Australian produce, such as wool (up to 2,779 bales could be carried), leather, wine, bark and copper, together with passengers.

On June 1 1887, all shares in the vessel were sold to a Dover coal merchant, Charles Havelock Mowll. Her rig was reduced from ship to barque for more economical working and she worked briefly in the collier trade from the Tyne to the Thames, before being sold onwards again to Belfast timber merchants, Daniel and Thomas Stewart Dixon. Still barque-rigged, she was engaged mainly in the North Atlantic bulk timber trade, until 1893. Acquired in that year by the Corporation of the City of Southampton, she was dismasted and converted to become a hospital isolation ship. She was taken off the register on February 7 1895.

In 1923, the Admiralty purchased her (for the sum of £2500), to become a drill and training ship for the Clyde Division RNVR. She was towed north for conversion, re-named HMS CARRICK, and moored at Greenock until the end of World War Two. Placed on the disposal list at the end of the war, CARRICK was converted and, prior to decommissioning in 1948, was presented to the newly formed RNVR Club of Glasgow. Berthed above the Clyde suspension bridge, she became a familiar sight. By the 1980s, she was a burden to her owners and in 1990 she was taken on by a now defunct body called the Clyde Ship Trust. She was moved to the Prince’s Dock where, in 1991, unaccountably she sank at her moorings.

In 1992, with the encouragement of Historic Scotland and Strathclyde Regional Council, and under pressure from developers, the ship was raised and taken over by the Scottish Maritime Museum. She was towed to Irvine, on the Ayrshire coast, where she was slipped and some progress made with her restoration. However, these efforts foundered in 1999 and the Museum unsuccessfully tried to sell her.

In May 2000, as funding sources dried up, the Museum applied to the local District Council for Listed Building Consent to demolish her. The bid was rejected in February 2001 on the grounds that the case for demolition of a listed structure had not been made with sufficient force, nor had the applicants demonstrated that every line of enquiry had been exhausted in pursuit of a practical alternative, as required by the statutory legislation governing the demolition of listed structures. Source; Campbell McMurray, Advisory Committee, March 2009


CITY OF ADELAIDE is the oldest of only three surviving composite vessels and the earliest surviving clipper ship. She highlights the early fast passenger-carrying and general cargo trade to the Antipodes. Her composite construction illustrates technical development in 19th shipbuilding techniques and scientific progress in metallurgy and her self-reefing top sails demonstrate the beginnings of modern labour saving technologies. Her service on the London to Adelaide route between 1864 and 1888 gives her an unrivalled associate status as one of the ships contributing to the growth of the Australian nation. CITY OF ADELAIDE is attributed to carrying 900 passengers from Britain to South Australia, from whom many of the people who live in the state today are descended. She has a strong association with Victorian commitment to professional training as her managing owners Devitt and Moor pioneered the Brassey sail training. Her role as a hospital isolation offers an introduction to the important subject of medicine at sea, and of sailors’ diseases. As the training and drill ship for the Clyde Division RNVR between 1923 and 1945 she offered naval training to many week-end sailors who later proved their worth in World War Two, serving in every theatre of the naval war and manning escort vessels which fought and won the Battle of the Atlantic. Harold Underhill, distinguished Glasgow naval architect described CITY OF ADELAIDE as a finer model of the period than CUTTY SARK. If her rig were re-instated with her labour-saving, mechanically assisted topsails, the spread of canvas would be immensely impressive and an enormous fillip to the interpretation of a fast sailing ship. Her rich and diverse life as a functioning ship over nearly a century and a half is itself a testament to her extraordinary qualities.

Previous names

  1. 1948 – 1992Carrick
  2. 1939 – 1948HMS Carrick
  3. 1864 – 1939City of Adelaide

Subsequent developments

March 2009 Interested parties in Sunderland and the city of Adelaide are endeavouring to work up realistic schemes for the long term preservation of this ship as a floating museum. CITY OF ADELAIDE remains stricken and decaying on a slipway in Irvine, her long-term future in grave doubt. The Advisory Committee has employed its best endeavours to ensure that every avenue isexplored to secure a sustainable, realistic solution for her future. If in the last resort demolition becomes necessary, the Advisory Committee will ensure that the procedure is conducted in strict accordance with its approved guidelines for dismantling and de-construction. Source; Campbell McMurray, Advisory Committee, March 09

June 2009 Two Project Awards were made by National Historic Ships: £3500 towards the costs for a laser scan, and £5300 towards the cost of a Hydrographic Survey Source: National Historic Ships.

July 2011 The passenger clipper City of Adelaide, which has been under threat of demolition for decades, may now find a safe port in Adelaide, South Australia. Following detailed and specific advice from consultants DTZ and National Historic Ships, the Scottish Minister for Culture and External Affairs, Fiona Hyslop, has named the Australian group The Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd (CSCOAL) as the preferred bidder to remove this highly significant vessel from her current location, a move which could see her installed in her new home in time to celebrate South Australia’s Jubilee Year in 2011. The Scottish government had also considered a bid by the Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation (SCARF). Both bids demonstrated a very high level of commitment and passion for the project, but National Historic Ships (which has been campaigning to save this ship since 2006) considered the CSCOAL bid the stronger. Source: Classic Boat magazine.

September 2013 Ownership of Carrick/City of Adelaide was formally transferred from the Scottish Maritime Museum to Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd. (CSCOAL) on 6th September 2013. The same day she was slid from the slipway in Irvine on which she has rested for many years onto a pontoon-barge and after delays due to weather has  today left  the river estuary bound for the Thames. On her arrival she will be fumigated and come upriver on the barge to lie opposite Cutty Sark for a few days and a big event, before leaving for transhipment (probably in Rotterdam) for the voyage to Port Adelaide where she will become the focal point for a museum of diaspora and immigration. There were interested parties to save the ship in the UK and National Historic Ships UK worked with these groups and the Australians to see what could be done. However, no concrete UK proposals were ever brought forward. Given this ship’s strong associations with Port Adelaide, to which she made some 23 voyages carrying voluntary emigrants and returning with mixed cargoes from South Australia, the Australian proposals  were welcomed as giving  the ship the opportunity to survive and become a valued heritage asset in the port where she had spent time and where her extant rudder was fitted when the original was damaged. Details of the project can be found on the Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ltd website, along with excellent images of the ship being removed for Irvine. Source: NHS-UK, Sep 13.

Key dates

  1. 1863 Laid Down
  2. 1864 Launched and registered on 18 July at the Port of London
  3. 1887 All shares in the vessel sold to Dover coal merchant, Charles Havelock Mowll
  4. 1888 Sold to Daniel and Thomas Stewart Dixon of Belfast
  5. 1893 Purchased by City of Southampton to serve as a hospital isolation ship
  6. 1895 Registry closed on 7 February
  7. 1923 Purchased by Admiralty for conversion to training and drill ship for Clyde Division RNVR. Renamed HMS CARRICK
  8. 1948 Placed on the disposal list. Prior to de-commissioning, donated by the Admiralty to new RNVR Club and berthed at Custom House Quay, Glasgow. Name change to CARRICK
  9. 1989 Given statutory protection as a Category A Listed Building by Glasgow District Council
  10. 1990 Ship sold by the RNVR (Scotland) Club to Clyde Ship Trust for £1
  11. 1991 Moved to Princes Dock where she later sunk at her moorings
  12. 1992 Refloated, acquired by Scottish Maritime Museum and moved to Irvine for restoration. Original name re-instated
  13. 1999 Restoration work discontinued due to financial pressure
  14. 2000 Scottish Maritime Museum seeks listed building consent to demolish vessel
  15. 2001 Listed building consent refused - Museum instructed to seek alternative solution


  1. unknown Sea Breezes Time, Tide and the Carrick
  2. unknown Painted Ports - The Story of the ships of Devitt & Moore - Course, Captain A G
  3. 1952 Sea Breezes The Versatile Carrick
  4. 1978 Old Ships, Boats and Maritime Museums - Sullivan, Dick
  5. 1993 International Register of Historic Ships - Brouwer, Norman J
  6. 1995 Long term slipping of clipper ship CARRICK ex CITY OF ADELAIDE - McCalman, Crawford and Walker, Fred
  7. 2001 Classic Boat Ozzie migrant ship's future hangs in the balance
  8. 2010 Classic Boat Deadline imminent - but no lottery cash
  9. 2011 Classic Boat Fear for clipper's future
  10. 2011 Classic Boat City of Adelaide - Clipper's transit cradle under way
  11. 2011 Classic Boat Cradle on the way from Australia
If you are the owner of the vessel and would like to provide more details or updated information please contact

keel bar:

metal bar forming the keel of a metal vessel