A visit to the Cutty Sark
Considering it was, in Queen Victoria’s Day, one of the fastest cargo ships in the world, the Cutty Sark has proved extremely popular just standing still for almost 60 years. Since the 1950s, this old tea clipper had been dry docked and on display at Greenwich, a splendid vessel much loved by children and adults, who clambered around its decks imagining what it would have been like to serve on board, hoist the sails and sleep in its tiny bunks.
Then in 2007, when the Cutty Sark was closed for restoration work, parts of the ship were badly damaged in a fire. Incredibly, this didn’t prove the end for the old vessel and, instead it reopened in 2012 as one of London’s most beautiful attractions.
The ship is now raised an extra 11ft off the ground to show off its sleek copper-clad keel (the reason it could sail so fast on its long journeys). Its weather deck and rigging have also been carefully restored so you can get a feel of what life was like during one of Britain’s significant seafaring moments in history. Trading with far-flung parts of the world in the 1800s helped create modern Britain.
For those visitors who want to get a better idea of how much of the ship is truly part of the original vessel, the new additions have been coloured differently. An amazing 90 percent of what you see is what the Cutty Sark originally looked like.
New additions include interactive exhibits and craft activities to amuse and amaze children and grown-ups alike. There are free talks to join on board; hear about life on the high seas from costumed guides (who portray characters like Captain Richard Woodget, who was in charge of the vessel from 1885 to 1895).
You can stop for a tea break in the Even Kell Café underneath the ship’s mighty gold-coloured hull – very apt, given that this ship used to carry a cargo on each voyage of enough tea to make 200 million cups!
Cutty Sark Clipper Ship, King William Walk, Greenwich (www.rmg.co.uk/cuttysark). Cutty Sark DLR or Greenwich Pier.