2003 Mike Edwards proposal

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In mid 2003, Mike Edwards, a founding director of Travelsphere Limited, one of the UK's largest independent operators of full escorted touring holidays, came up with an ambitious restoration plan for the City of Adelaide. Mr. Edwards wanted to see the clipper ship not simply restored as a quayside visitor attraction but returned to her former glory, fully seaworthy and under full sail on the ocean.

To consider whether the plan was viable, Mr. Edwards funded a specially commissioned feasibility study to determine whether the ship could be made completely seaworthy again.

In addition, Mr. Edwards took steps to ensure that the City of Adelaide did not deteriorate further by funding protective works to the vessel, including erecting a canopy over the ship as a further protection from the elements.

It did not stop there. Mr. Edwards’ donation also contributed towards some of the Maritime Museum's existing slipway costs. The City of Adelaide is located on a slipway on private land near the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine. The owners of the slipway have long wanted the clipper removed from their slipway and in 2005 terminated the Scottish Maritime Museum’s lease.

In exchange for his donation, the Museum’s Trustees gave Mr. Edwards first right of refusal to acquire the vessel.

At that time, the plans of the competing South Australian and Sunderland Groups were ‘put on the shelf’ awaiting the outcome of the feasibility study.

Vinyl cladding of the deck of the City of Adelaide
Deck of City of Adelaide before cladding 
Deck of City of Adelaide during cladding 
Deck of City of Adelaide after cladding 

Consultant's Report

The consultants report determined that whilst it is theoretically possible to restore the City of Adelaide to sailing and passenger carrying standards, it would be less expensive to build a replica from new.

A restoration would require the historic ship comply with current passenger ship regulations, life saving, structural fire protection, intact stability and damage stability, bilge pumps and piping, fire pumps and piping, steering gear and emergency steering gear, mechanical propulsion, electrical power generation and distribution, air conditioning and ventilation, navigation equipment and crew regulation requirements.

In order to ensure the strength of the hull for the harsh conditions on the open sea, the majority of hull and deck planking would require to be renewed along with the stem, the stern and all missing major items of structure, rigging and equipment.

Said Mike Edwards: "... the consultants report demonstrates that this simply cannot be achieved without destroying its integrity as a genuine restored historic ship ...”

The consultant's report concluded that "... restoration of The Clipper Ship - City of Adelaide for non sea-going use is a far more practical and logical project, which would protect this historically important vessel for future generations and hopefully create an attraction that would enhance Travelsphere's reputation, and provide a location for use as museum, conference centre and corporate presence."


After the consultant’s conclusions became available in 2006 Mr. Edwards advised, "As a result, I will not now be taking up my original option of acquiring City of Adelaide and no one is more disappointed than me at the outcome. I have no regrets whatsoever about trying to restore one of our historic ships and we certainly gave it our best shot. Even if the level of historic loss within the ship’s structure had been capable of being resolved, there were other serious concerns raised about it being able to comply with current maritime passenger safety regulations and that element simply reinforced our decision not to continue."

"One positive aspect is that our study has made available a fund of technical information about 'City of Adelaide' that did not exist previously and, in that respect, our study has made a substantial contribution to maritime architecture and archaeology".

Mr. Edwards charitable efforts extended a life-line to the City of Adelaide that ultimately gave her another three years of reprieve.

Both the Sunderland and South Australian Action Groups had to park their campaigns for those three years which emotionally affects the volunteers who energise the Action Groups.

Today the Save the 'Clipper Ship City of Adelaide Action Group' based in South Australia is recapturing its earlier energy and converting that to kinetic energy as they start the project's 'flywheel' spinning again.

The consultant's report also give’s credence and therefore heart to the group's plans of setting up a static museum to display the City of Adelaide. The role model for this museum is the popular but modest museum in Picton, New Zealand where the Edwin Fox is displayed.