The Unicorn Preservation Society have launched a campaign for the historic frigate – one of the six oldest ships in the world – to be given a more central location in the £1 billion Dundee waterfront development.
They have produced stunning new images showing how Scotland’s only preserved warship – launched 188 years ago but ”exiled” in Victoria Dock – would look if berthed close to the V&A and other attractions in the ambitious reconstruction programme.
Architect Jack Green has produced the illustrations to show HMS Unicorn gracing the setting, with her gilded figurehead shining in the afternoon sun.
The proposal is for the Unicorn to be preserved out of water and protected from the weather, as if about to be launched into the River Tay.
Supporters of the campaign say the cost of the preservation would be a fraction of the millions spent rebuilding the Cutty Sark after it was severely damaged by fire.
Lt Cdr Roderick Stewart, chairman of the Unicorn Preservation Society, said: ”The Unicorn is in astonishingly good condition for her age and she is now the last completely authentic big wooden ship left in the world.
”Presenting Unicorn out of the water and under cover offers an extremely cost-effective way of preserving this wonderful old ship, and would also be a world-first.”
Bringing the Unicorn back from its exile in Victoria Dock would, in the eyes of many Dundonians, correct a mistake made when the Discovery was returned 30 years ago.
They felt the Unicorn should sit alongside Captain Scott’s famous Antarctic explorer, so that the two historic ships could provide a combined maritime heritage attraction for visitors.
That idea was rejected by those promoting the Discovery’s return, who wanted their ship to sit alone in Craig Harbour and be the centrepiece of a planned leisure and retail development around Discovery Point.
Their Discovery dream was never fully realised. Now the Unicorn society are urging the waterfront’s backers to show the imagination previously lacking and give their ship the status in the central waterfront they feel it deserves.
A spokesman for Dundee City Council said: ”There are no plans for a proposal of this kind in the development of the central waterfront. However, we are in ongoing discussions with the preservation trust about potentially suitable locations elsewhere within the wider waterfront project.”