World's oldest clipper saved from a watery grave

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SHE IS the world's oldest clipper, arguably more important than the Cutty Sark, one of the elite, romantic vessels that raced to the colonies in the 19th century.

Launched in 1864, HMS Carrick, which was originally called the City of Adelaide, once held the record for the crossing to Australia. She has been rescued after almost ending her days in a dock amid landfill. The ship is now at Irvine, Ayrshire, at the Scottish Maritime Museum, and will go on display once restored. Historians say the Carrick, one of only two vessels that is also a listed building, is the most important British ship that remains unrestored.

After the Australia run she briefly carried coal on North Atlantic routes, then served as an isolation hospital in Southampton until 1923, when she became a training ship for the Navy, then a detention centre for deserters and finally a clubhouse of the Royal Naval Volunteer Service.

The ship's importance has long been acknowledged by Glaswegians, for whom the sight of the Carrick meant the end of their journey. She was moored in the docks for nearly 50 years, her masts towering above the bus terminus.

When Princes Dock was redeveloped, the hull of the Carrick, which had sunk in bad weather, was being filled with silt.

The Scottish Maritime Museum has announced a pounds 900,000 appeal after the National Historic Ships Committee ruled that the clipper should top the list of restoration projects.