Maritime Expert Says £5m Needed To Save World's Oldest Clipper

By David Prudames | 07 February 2003
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Shows the Carrick, built in 1864.

Left: the Carrick, built in 1864, is in desperate need of repair. Image courtesy of Alan Ingram/

According to an expert at the Scottish Institute of Maritime Studies, the world's oldest clipper, the Carrick, needs £5 million worth of restoration or it will be lost forever.

Dr Robert Prescott of St Andrews University told the Irvine Herald that without substantial preservation funds, the Carrick cannot survive despite its Core Collection listing as a vessel of national importance.

Built in Sunderland in 1864, but now stricken in Irvine, Scotland, the Carrick was one of a number of similar vessels - including the famous Cutty Sark now in London - that sailed fast cargo trips to Australia.

"It would be catastrophic if we didn't take adequate provision for the future of these vessels," Dr Prescott said to the Scottish newspaper.

Dr Prescott explained how at least £12 million was needed to preserve the Carrick and three other historic ships currently residing in Scotland, the Discovery and Unicorn at Dundee and the Reaper at Fife.

Shows the Cutty Sark.

Right: the Cutty Sark, is now a museum in London, but is another clipper in desperate need of restoration funds. © Cutty Sark Trust.

"The Government has always been wary of pouring money into preserving a ship which could be sold. The Executive has got to face up to the fact that two substantial sections of heritage management are treated so differently. Until there is some kind of parity the problems with these vessels will remain."

An application to destroy the Carrick was turned down by North Ayrshire Council in 2001, following protests from the public and heritage experts alike. However, financial appeals by the Scottish Maritime Museum have so far failed to raise enough money to secure it.

Other attempts have already been made to save the famous ship, with ideas including transporting it to Australia and turning it into a floating museum, being put forward.

The plight of the Carrick is almost mirrored by that of its contemporary, the Cutty Sark, which as a spokesperson at the Cutty Sark Trust explained to the 24 Hour Museum needs around £8 million if its long-term future is to be secured.

"There are holes appearing at the bottom and the rain has seeped through into the iron work, so the rust is going mad. In three years time it is going to be unsafe; we have got to act now."

Both the Cutty Sark and the Carrick are listed on the National Historic Ships Committee's Core Collection.

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