Secret Scotland

If it's secret, and in Scotland…

Adelaide beats Glasgow in glasshouse restoration

Glasgow (and even Scotland) has a dismal record regarding the preservation and maintenance of the few historic glasshouses (or winter gardens) in its care.

Examples such as Springburn Winter Gardens have long lain in ruins, and although I can’t get there now, was sad to learn that the glasshouse in Ayr’s Bellisle Park had been closed in 2005, and I saw the sad sight of it boarded up, but thanks to local efforts had been restored and reopened in 2016.

Surely the worst case (since it was rescued but then dumped only a few years later) now has to be Tollcross Winter Gardens (not forgetting its once new Visitor Centre).

In summary, the Winter Garden glasshouse in Tollcross Park was last rescued and refurbished in the period 1999/2000, having then lain derelict for at least a decade, and at risk of being lost at worst, or left to be vandalised or rot at best. However, £1.7 million was raised to save it then, when it also gained an adjacent Visitor Centre, café, and play area.

But, having suffered storm damage during the winter of 2010/2011, it was simply closed and left to rot, with lack of cash being given as the reason.

While Glasgow City Council squandered more than £300 million paying to host the farcical 2014 Commonwealth Games, and spent freely on ‘upgrades’ for the Commonwealth Pool in the sports centre only a few metres from the stricken glasshouse, not a penny could be found to restore what would have been a better tourist attraction – since it would always be there, unlike the ten days or so of sporting madness of the dopey games that were ‘Here today, gone tomorrow’.

Since the hull of the clipper ship ‘City of Adelaide’ (aka The Carrick) went there, I get automated news updates, which include articles relating to Adelaide.

This story about what would appear to be the only such glasshouse in the southern hemisphere was just highlighted, and puts Adelaide ahead of Glasgow in this particular race.

Being a sole survivor of war is a burden few ask for, but when you fall under the weather and weigh 22 tonnes, you can be sure to draw attention.

The Palm House in Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens is undergoing its second restoration in about 25 years, with a team of painters and builders treating it for salt damp and rust incursion.

Plants have been moved out and cracked glass panes are being replaced, as workers utilise a huge freestanding scaffolding structure that took a week to build inside and around the 1877 structure.

Originally built in Bremen, Germany in 1875, the Palm House was shipped to Adelaide and reassembled, although the glass panes were all broken by the time it arrived.

Following the devastation of subsequent wars in Europe, it remains the only known German-built glasshouse from the era and is Australia’s second oldest.

Andrew Carrick from the Botanic Gardens and State Herbarium said there were similar examples of iron and glass botanical houses around the world, such as the Crystal Palace and the Kew Gardens palm house in London.

“They are the same style with the cast iron, and obviously at a much grander scale, but ours is probably the only one in the Southern Hemisphere,” he said.

It is also possibly the only surviving example of a prefabricated glasshouse, and was originally used for tropical plants until rust incursion in the early 1990s led the gardens to change its use to dry plants from the southern and western tips of Madagascar.

Palm House at Adelaide’s Botanic Gardens stands alone as example of German glasshouse design

Compare and contrast…

The Adelaide glasshouse scaffolding supporting… restoration.

Photo: The palm house was built in Adelaide during 1877 after prefabrication in Germany. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)

Photo: The palm house was built in Adelaide during 1877 after prefabrication in Germany. (ABC Radio Adelaide: Malcolm Sutton)

The Tollcross Winter Gardens scaffolding supporting… what’s left.

Tollcross Winter Gardens ruined

Tollcross Winter Gardens scaffolding

31/08/2018 Posted by | Appeal, council, photography | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Work restarts in Irvine to complete City of Adelaide move to Australia

The arrival (or perhaps I should say anticipated arrival, given that we have just been told we are currently enjoying the coldest March for 50 years) of spring has seen life come to the Welcome to the Scottish Maritime Museum, and news of developments behind the move of the remains of City of Adelaide to her new home in Australia.

Australia… sounds like a good idea, as ‘sunny’ Scotland is currently set to keep its current wintry spell extension operating well into April. I’m almost beginning to believe I was sniffing too much cleaning solvent in an unventilated room recently, and that the long walks I was enjoying a few weeks ago were just a figment of my imagination. The idea of going for a nice walk armed with a camera is almost becoming a long-lost memory.

Back in Irvine:

“With the successful transfer to South of Australia of the rudder of the clipper ship City of Adelaide work has now begin on the preparation of the vessel for her journey to Port Adelaide. The technical issues associated with the treatment of the historic timbers of the vessel to meet Australian import regulations were overcome and tested with the move of the rudder. One of the engineers from Australia, leading the project, arrived in Scotland on the 10th of March and a number of specialist contractors have now been engaged. The first phase of this stage of the work will be the dismantling of the Australian built transportation cradle and its repositioning under and around the ship. Work will also commence inside the hull to provide the stability to the ship’s frame for the move.”

Via City of Adelaide Clipper Ship 2013 – The Work Has Begun

This announcement would appear to lay to rest claims by various naysayers that the move had been cancelled, has been stopped by a legal challenge, that the money had run out, that the timber treatment failed to meet Australian import regulations, that the Australians had run away and deserted (after their web site went down), that they had run out of money, and even one suggestion that the hull had already broken and could not be transported to the cradle.

Hunting around the web can find some fun claims that were thrown around while the project was on hold over the doldrums of the winter season.

The question now is whether or not the actual move ultimately produces better tales than the fertile imaginations that were free to roam over the period of calm, or if it all goes off without a hitch.

02/04/2013 Posted by | Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

City of Adelaide (The Carrick to Glaswegians) transport timeline

(See also original Clipper ship cradle about to set sail for Scotland – 28 October 2011).

We’ve raised the issue of the treatment of the remains of the clipper City of Adelaide, or The Carrick if you watched it sink while moored in Glasgow, with some despair.

We often accept reality and that not every relic can be retained in pristine and ‘as-new’ conditions, but the way the City of Adelaide was treated is unforgivable, since it was – or rather is – the world’s oldest clipper ship. The only other surviving composite iron- frame and timber-hull clipper is said to be the Cutty Sark, and that is five years younger.

The City of Adelaide was built in 1864, its job to bring early settlers from the UK to the infant colony of South Australia. The state’s longest-established families are linked to the ship, and it has been estimated nearly a quarter of a million descendants of its passengers now live in Australia.

It’s final journey to the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine should have seen its future secured – that’s the idea behind a museum, isn’t it?

City of Adelaide or The Carrick

Remains of the City of Adelaide pictured on the slipway at the Scottish Maritime Museum Irvine in 2005 © Chris Allen

Instead, it lay derelict and decaying, and was so unwanted that it was first due to be deconstructed – a process whereby researchers would take it to pieces and record the structure in detail, together with the methods of construction, destroying the hull in the process.

When that didn’t happen, it was reported that the hull was simply going to be demolished to clear the ground it lay on.

Apparently that news was not well received when it went public, and this option was shelved.

Australians finally rescue City of Adelaide

Although we had been trying to keep an eye on the media, apart from local news, nothing else was spotted, primarily because we were completely unaware of what was happening on the other side of the world, and without that knowledge had no idea what to target our searches on. Unfortunately, being named ‘City of Adelaide’ meant that it was all but impossible to get results that did not favour the city rather than the rotting hull lying in Irvine.

To save looking for them again, I’ve listed them below, together with their dates of publication:

Historic City of Adelaide clipper ship on course for 2011 homecoming | May 31, 2011.

The 100-tonne cradle will be built in Adelaide, dismantled for transport to Scotland in shipping containers, then reassembled there and placed under the ship. On wheels, the cradle will then carry the ship, which now sits on a slipway at Irvine near Glasgow, and roll it on to a low-draft barge, which will take it to a transit port for craning on to an ocean-going ship that will bring the cradle and clipper to Port Adelaide. Mr Roberts said the cradle would cost about $1 million to design and build commercially but was being done for a fraction of that thanks to materials and labour being donated. But help was still needed, he said. The Scottish Government was providing some funds for the ship’s removal but the trust was still looking for help from the Australian Federal Government to transport the ship.

City of Adelaide work to begin – Local News – News – Portside Messenger. June 24, 2011.

CONSTRUCTION of a giant 100-tonne steel cradle, to support historic clipper City of Adelaide on her journey to the Port from Scotland, will begin at Gillman next week.

A ceremony to mark the start of the project will be held at Samaras Structural Engineers on Monday morning (June 27).

A bottle of champagne will be cracked over the first piece of the cradle by Pam Whittle, the great-grand-daughter of the clipper’s first captain, David Bruce, and Marion Wells, the great-great-granddaughter of migrant Matilda Methuen.

The Scottish government decided to allow its permanent return to the Port last year.

The building of the cradle will be a joint effort by more than 15 engineering firms from around the state, donating labour and materials.

Adelaide firms Aztec Analysis and Bown Contracting and Drafting have designed the cradle so that it can be built over several sites across SA, then shipped to Glasgow in containers for assembly underneath the City of Adelaide.

The clipper and cradle will then be rolled onto a barge for transfer to a deep port at Rotterdam, where it will be transferred to a larger ship for the voyage to Port Adelaide.

$1m cradle built to transport clipper to SA – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation). October 28, 2011.

Another step has been taken towards bringing the City of Adelaide clipper to South Australia from Scotland. A $1 million cradle has been built at Gillman in Adelaide and is about to be shipped to Scotland.

2012 arrival date for City of Adelaide clipper | Adelaide Now. December 28, 2011.

The first two containers of prefabricated components of a large steel cradle left Port Adelaide at the end of October and will arrive at Irvine, where the ship sits, on January 6. A further three containers, each also carrying 15 to 20 tonnes of cradle parts, will leave Port Adelaide on Friday and are due in Scotland in late February. The cradle will be moved under the ship’s hull by late March.

Carrick ready for the off – Irvine Herald. January 13, 2012.

The first two containers of prefabricated components of the cradle arrived in Irvine on Friday. The last three containers, each carrying 15 to 20 tonnes of cradle parts, are due in late February.

The Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Ready by March for Transport to Australia | Old Salt Blog – a virtual port of call for all those who love the sea. January 19, 2012.

The first two containers containing sections of the shipping cradle have now arrived in Irvine, Scotland. The last three containers, each carrying 15 to 20 tonnes of cradle parts, are due in late February.  Once the cradle is reassembled under the ship, the 150-year-old clipper and cradle will be moved onto a barge for transfer onto an ocean-going ship for the voyage to Port Adelaide, Australia.  The current target date is the end of March, if all goes well.

City of Adelaide

City of Adelaide lying at Irvine on February 07 2012 © wfmillar

Update 2013

As this post has already grown to quite a length, and the move has already gone on hold for a year due to the weather and other tests, I will not be extending it further.

Please check for newer posts in the blog, and update after March 2013, when The Scottish Maritime Museum announced that work on the move was due to get underway once more:

City of Adelaide Clipper Ship 2013 – The Work Has Begun

02/02/2012 Posted by | Appeal, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Clipper ship cradle about to set sail for Scotland – 28 October 2011

We’ve been following the fate of the unfortunate clipper ‘City of Adelaide’ for some time, both here and in the Forum, see: The Carrick or City of Adelaide is laid to rest.

Most people around Glasgow know the vessel as ‘The Carrick’ from its days moored on the River Clyde, where it lay between 1923 and 1989. Unfortunately, it also sank there on  more than one occasion, and ownership eventually passed to the Scottish Maritime Museum. During the period 1992/1993, the remains were moved to a private slipway adjacent to the museum, and a number of scenarios followed, including the proposed deconstruction of the remains, and demolition. Fortunately, the latter option was deemed not to meet the requirements of deconstruction, which would have seen a proper historical record made of all parts and construction methods found.

There are more detailed listing of various incidents and proposals regarding the decaying vessel as it lay neglected in Irvine, and many of these were noted in the Forum thread mentioned above, and we will not be trying to list them here. Please refer to the thread for more information, if desired.

We also have two past Blog entries relating to the City of Adelaide:

June 1, 2011 – City of Adelaide is still rotting away in Irvine

January 4, 2010 – City of Adelaide rots while authorities dither

The Forum followed more current developments, including this article from August 31, 2010 – Culture Minister announces plan to save City of Adelaide/Carrick with Australian bidder

I had largely forgotten about things after this, as there did not seem to be much happening.


It seems that the wheels had indeed been ‘set in motion’ following the Scottish Culture Minister’s announcement, and I just found the following Media Release from the latter part of 2010, which I am pleased to be able to reproduce in full below:

Clipper Ship Cradle About to Set Sail for Scotland

Media Release

28 October 2011

The project to return the world’s oldest clipper ship, the ‘City of Adelaide’, to Port Adelaide will reach another important milestone tomorrow with the completion of the base of a giant 100 tonne steel cradle. A ceremony at Gillman will herald the completion of the cradle base that will support the clipper during its transport from Scotland to Australia. The cradle base has been pre-assembled for integration checks and will be shipped to Scotland in a week’s time.

Valued at $1 million, the cradle has being jointly donated by over a dozen Adelaide and SA regional firms. The ceremony will take place at Samaras Structural Engineers who have donated both labour and materials to the project and will be marked by the cutting of a ribbon by Senator Don Farrell, a staunch supporter of the project and the descendant of a clipper ship captain.

Senator Farrell said “This is an excellent project that helps to mark South Australia’s 175th year. South Australians should be proud, as I am of the collegiate spirit of the engineering firms from across the State that have combined forces to build the cradle. The ‘City of Adelaide’ is an icon of the foundation era of Australia’s social and economic history. It is one of only four surviving sailing ships in the world to have transported emigrants from the British Isles to any destination and will be the only surviving sailing ship in Australia to have brought migrants here.”

Senator Farrell, George Samaras, the General Manager of Samaras Structural Engineers, Creagh O’Connor, the Chairman of the City of Adelaide Preservation Trust, and a group of supporters from the Trust and other donors will also attend the ceremony.

Adelaide firms Aztec Analysis and Bown Contracting and Drafting have designed the cradle so that it can be built over multiple South Australian sites, and then shipped to Glasgow in shipping containers for assembly underneath the ‘City of Adelaide’. The clipper and cradle will then be rolled onto a barge for transfer to a deep port, where it will be transferred onto an ocean-going ship for the voyage to Australia.


The ‘City of Adelaide’ and the ‘Cutty Sark’ are the world’s last two surviving clipper ships. Built in 1864, the ‘City of Adelaide’ is the elder of the two. It made annual runs for a quarter-century from London to South Australia carrying thousands of UK and European migrants. In Australia today, a quarter of a million living descendants can trace their origins to passengers that sailed on the ‘City of Adelaide’.

The ‘City of Adelaide’ currently sits on a slipway in Scotland and its owners, the Scottish Maritime Museum, are being evicted from the site. With few options, they called for tenders to demolish the ship. The City of Adelaide Preservation Trust lodged a bid to ‘demolish’ the ship by taking it to Australia in one piece. Late last year the Scottish Government announced that the Australian solution was the preferred bidder.

To date 75% of the project costs have been funded through contributions from Scottish Government, Adelaide City Council and Port Adelaide Enfield Council, as well as public and corporate donations. The South Australian Government is contributing land to display the clipper at Cruickshank Corner in Port Adelaide


From left to right, then top to bottom, the details of the above images are as follows:

  1. Parts pre-fabrication at Samaras Structural Engineers at Gillman. Photo by Richard Smith.
  2. Cradle fabrication at MG Engineering at Port Adelaide. Photo by Richard Smith.
  3. Cradle fabrication at MG Engineering at Port Adelaide. Photo by Richard Smith.
  4. Finished cradle components at SJ Cheesman Engineering at Port Pirie. Photo by Richard Smith.
  5. Cradle integration assembly at Samaras Structural Engineers at Gillman. Photo by Richard Smith.
  6. Laser-survey silhouette of ‘City of Adelaide’ on cradle. Cradle design by Aztec Analysis; cradle detail design and graphic by Steve Bown.
  7. The transportation cradle.  Cradle design by Aztec Analysis; cradle detail design and graphic by Steve Bown.
  8. End view of transportation cradle and silhouette of clipper. Cradle design by Aztec Analysis; cradle detail design and graphic by Steve Bown.
  9. Colourised (real colour) laser survey scan. Laser survey and graphic by Headland Archaeology, Edinburgh.

via Clipper Ship Cradle About To Set Sail For Scotland – 28 Oct 2011 | 2011 News.

Update for w/e Friday 27 January 2012

We received the following update:

Hot off the press from an Adelaide paper last week.

2 containers with 40 tons of steel for the prefabricated cradle have arrived at Irvine.  3 more containers comprising the rest of the cradle should arrive this month.

The ship can be carried onto a river barge, taken into deep water and loaded onto an ocean-going ship which will carry it to Port Adelaide.

Update for w/e Friday 10 February 2012

This was later found to have been reported earlier by the media in Irvine:

THE historic Carrick clipper ship will be ready to leave Irvine for Australia before the end of March, according to campaigners in Oz.

That’s when the Save the Clipper City of Adelaide Preservation Trust expect a giant 100 tonne cradle which will transport the vessel Down Under will be in place.

The first two containers of prefabricated components of the cradle arrived in Irvine on Friday.

The last three containers, each carrying 15 to 20 tonnes of cradle parts, are due in late February.

The trust proposed four years ago that the ship’s recovery to Adelaide be the major project to mark South Australia’s 175th birthday but they still need to find funding to ship the vessel abroad.

The plan is to roll the 150-year-old clipper and cradle onto a barge for transfer to a deep port, where it will be transferred onto an ocean-going ship for the voyage to Port Adelaide.

Via Carrick ready for the off – Irvine Herald. Dated January 13, 2012.

20/01/2012 Posted by | Appeal, Lost, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

City of Adelaide is still rotting away in Irvine

Weed by bovinelife
Weed, a photo by bovinelife on Flickr.

We’ve been following the fate if the City of Adelaide – better known to Glaswegians as The Carrick – ever since it was announced that the remains were to be cut up, since there was no way to fund the projected £10 million of restoration.

Cynics have suggested the remains are lying on land at the Maritime Museum in Irvine, which would be worth a lot more if sold for development.

The relevant Forum thread – The Carrick or City of Adelaide is laid to rest – has listed various protests and plans raised over the years.

However, as can be seen from the photo posted into our Flickr group, the hull is still lying there in 2011.

The plan to cut up the hull was intended to be archival, with the work being carried out in such a way that the underlying structure could be recorded. However, it looks as if the same result will be achieved if enthusiasts just keep on taking pics as the years pass – and bits fall off.

01/06/2011 Posted by | Lost, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

City of Adelaide rots while authorities dither

I was going to entitle this post City of Adelaide rots while authorities fiddle, as a parallel to Nero fiddling while Rome burnt, but I thought the chances of being sued by the officials of the actual city of Adelaide for suggesting of corruption was just to high if they spotted the title, and didn’t read further.

I am, of course, referring to the ongoing and increasingly sad case of the clipper, City of Adelaide (better known as The Carrick to the good people of Glasgow whenever it was afloat), whose hull lies abandoned, derelict, and rotting on a slipway at the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine.

City of Adelaide or The Carrick

Remains of the City of Adelaide pictured on the slipway at the Scottish Maritime Museum Irvine in 2005 © Chris Allen

If ever there was a story that refused to lie down quietly, it must surely be that of the planned destruction (deconstruction), or not, of this once proud shipping relic.

Scottish Maritime Museum

Jim Tildesley, acting director of the Scottish Maritime Museum, said the decision to break up the ship was down to resources. He said:

We are taking the vessel apart so that you actually learn from doing it – it’s a bit like a piece of archaeology. But initially we’re attempting to save the bow and stern and have them preserved in our main museum. What we don’t know yet is the cost of actually doing that and whether we can afford to fund that bit of preservation.

It seems that every news story that suggests the end of the remains of this clipper has arrived is followed almost immediately by another which says not so, and suggesting that some sort of rescue is still possible, if only someone would either come up with the cash, or allow the remains to be removed from Irvine and restored.

The stories are beginning to lack consistency and credibility to some degree however, and if the most recent is to be believed, then the remains should be in no danger of being lost, since it refers to not only a bid from Sunderland, in the north east of England, but also a rival bid from Australia, which was the vessel’s destination for 28 round trips.

With rival bids being tabled, surely the question should no longer be one of the recovery of the vessel, but who is going to win ownership of the remains.

Or, does the real problem actually lie with the Scottish Maritime Museum and/or Historic Scotland?

Is someone somewhere playing silly buggers, something along the lines of “This is my ball and you’re not playing with it – I’ll burst it before that happens.

Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation (SCARF)

Campaigner Peter Maddison (a Sunderland councillor) has been quoted as saying: “I wish it could be straightforward, but it won’t be. Every inch of the way we have to contend with awkwardness and obstruction.” Maddison occupied the hull back in October 2009, as a protest, but ran out water after four days.

He has said that he has an engineering firm willing to help, with a naval architect and engineers ready to plan the recovery. two hotels in Irvine ready to take 30 volunteers, former shipyard workers from Sunderland, and that half the bars and clubs in Sunderland are on stand-by, ready to hold fundraising events to support the volunteers in Irvine. Further details of this effort can be found on the SCARF (Sunderland City of Adelaide Recovery Foundation) web site.

City of Adelaide Australia

Save City of Adelaide logoCity of Adelaide, The Splendid Clipper Ship is an Australian web site hosting an appeal to Save the Clipper, and which sent an open letter to the Prime Minister and People of the United Kingdom back in November 2009, pleading for the demolition of the ship to be prevented. This letter notes that the reason for this destruction is merely to clear the site to make way for a housing development.

The museum appears to have just left the vessel to rot over the years, and I don’t say that as mere criticism, as its masters may not have been able or willing to provide sufficient finance for it to do anything else once it had the remains on site. Then again, what of the housing development’s part?

Historic Scotland

However, Historic Scotland has now been quoted as follows:

Following recent discussions, Historic Scotland said: “Sadly, and despite the recent widespread publicity about her future, no viable option for her restoration has yet been presented. Deconstruction is “the most appropriate conclusion”, a spokeswoman added.”

While I don’t necessarily endorse the view, I have noted that Historic Scotland does receive adverse publicity in the media occasionally, for being obstructive and unhelpful, and if there are rival bidders looking to take over the remains of the City of Adelaide, and they are not asking Historic Scotland for money, then surely Historic Scotland should accept any bid for what has become little more than an embarrassing pile of scrap, and get if off their hands?

One might be tempted to think someone is exerting their authority merely because they can, and damn the consequences.

Surely it matters not if the remains go to Sunderland or Australia, so long as they are preserved in some way?

BBC News – Ship protester hails breakthrough

Sunderland Maritime Heritage

Sunderland Maritime Heritage has written a background summary regarding the deconstriction.

04/01/2010 Posted by | Appeal, Lost, Maritime, Transport | , , , , , , , | 3 Comments


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