Sunday, 8 September 2013

Carrick City of Adelaide leaves Irvine 9th September 2013

Carrick ARRIVED in Irvine 30th May 1993

Back in about 1988 when I was curator at the Scottish Maritime Museum, I took part with Campbell McMurray in the first steps that moved the Carrick/City of Adelaide. In the event in 1989 both of us moved on from the SMM but not before (and receiving from both of us a lot of time) the Linthouse Building was on the move. The latter despite one or two ups and downs must be judged a complete success for the museum. Without such a display building, I cannot see how the museum could have continued.

Carrick/CoA should have been a great success as well. But Carrick had been neglected well before the SMM came on the scene. Carrick (as I remember her) is actually an index of British attitudes to maritime preservation. Everyone wants it done but the serious money required tends not to appear or only after a great deal of painful head banging.

Carrick could have been to Irvine what Trincolmalee is in Hartlepool but somehow or other the deep political drivers that would be needed never appeared. Indeed the museum has had several dices with death in the meantime. Braehead has been an up and down saga. Dumbarton has been a consistent star. I believe the museum is much healthier now than say 10 years ago. Sam Galbraith is a chair of trustees of great ability. And can the museum be blamed that its neighbours in power chose to spend £14.8 million of Millennium money on The Big Idea? That was a project that spectacularly bombed and whose legacy is an unwanted bridge across Irvine Harbour being one of the three main obstacles to City of Adelaide's exit. Imagine the result if that money had gone to the clipper.

In the end Sunderland and Adelaide (with no real direction from Scotland beyond the sense they wanted it far away and the land back for its owner) had to compete. Adelaide has de facto won and I wish them well, although I don't imagine it will be easy. Why did Sunderland lose? Because in the end it is a political game and Sunderland's politicians were not fired up. Somehow not enough of them could see the big picture. But may I suggest this fits in with another related agenda. Sunderland has taken its museum service out of the Tyne & Wear joint service this spring. It has in its patch Washington F Pit museum which hardly ever opens. There is the Air Museum now NELSAM (easy to understand, not). Just follow the SIGNS to that operation to get an index on the matter. The lads there have a wonderful collection, a lot of ambition (thankfully a load of sheds) but they are tucked out in the Sunderland sticks and as I know from attending an open day this summer, the resource they would need to be viable will be considerable. And viability is important, if something is restored but cannot earn its keep (allowing that a trust's fund raising may balance the books) it can't work. I grew up with the Norfolk Wherry Albion which remains a success story but the Trust there has managed to keep things in balance. To have made Carrick work in Sunderland would have demanded her being part of a historic quarter redevelopment like Trincolmalee. I wonder to what extent Sunderland's leaders looked down the road at nearby Hartlepool and thought is there room for two?

The preserved railways of the North East show the same process. The Weardale is a big project with ambition, a good intellectual case, Look at in 2013! It has become a disaster. Look at the Bowes Railway in SUNDERLAND's patch. Again the intellectual case is unarguable. It is a major monument. Has it flourished in this time span? No it has struggled from crisis to crisis. So the story of transport based heritage in Sunderland in the last two decades is not a flush of successes.  

Nor should it be forgotten that for many of these last 20 years Sunderland did have an historic ship to attend to? Do not forget the Manxman and its stay at the Pallion Shipyard and how through 2011-12 it was scrapped there ( Does it surprise Carrick is not going to Sunderland? Disappointed yes, surprised no.

Where do I plan to be on Monday? Irvine with my wife Fiona (who I met at the SMM) - god willing. It will be a very historic moment, I hope it is not the end, I hope Carrick does reach Adelaide and that they love her in abundance! If anyone from the SMM recognises me on Monday, I shall smile and offer my handshake.

Robert Forsythe  

My FB album

Photos also at
and its neighbours. 

Twitter feed of the move of Adelaide Carrick is at 

The ship finally left Irvine 20th September and reached Chatham on the 25th. Only to find it was still not plain sailing . This link is also very pertinent .

Money wasted which could have been spent on the clipper. 

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