Voyage to Methil

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IT IS good to read (your report, 7 September) that the hull of the City of Adelaide, the world’s oldest surviving clipper (1864), is to be saved and shipped off to Adelaide in southern Australia, rather than being destroyed by the Scottish Maritime Museum in Irvine. Pity that we couldn’t raise the funds to preserve it here in Scotland, but never mind.

It may be of interest to note that Adelaide boasts the rusting remains of what is thought to be the oldest iron-hulled sailing ship still in existence – this is the Santiago, which was built eight years earlier in 1856 at ­Methil, Fife, by Henry Balfour.

The ship was built mainly for a trading run between Liverpool and Valparaiso in Chile, but ended up as a coal store in ­Adelaide. South Australia has ­officially designated it as a “historic shipwreck”.

I wonder if we could return Australia’s favour by raising the funds to return the Santiago back to Scotland, more precisely Methil, where the excellent local heritage trust has thoroughly researched this little-known vessel and its most interesting history?

Incidentally, Methil could also lay claim to another famous clipper, the Cutty Sark, as George Moodie, its first captain, retired to live there and was a founder member of Methil Bowling Club.

Ronald PA Smith

Rivaldsgreen Crescent

Linlithgow, West Lothian

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