The Cutty Sark is located on King William Walk in the London borough of Greenwich. The three masted 19th century tea clipper was the fastest ship of her time bringing, amongst other things, the new tea crop from China to the fashionable Victorian tearooms of London. Badly damaged by fire in 2007 the ship underwent a total renovation and was reopened to the public in April 2012.
With her timber and iron hull, the Cutty Sark was at the pinnacle of sailing ship design and spent the 1870’s establishing a reputation for being one of the fastest ships bringing goods halfway around the world to British ports. Even as the ship was launched, the writing was on the wall for sail powered merchant ships. With the opening of the Suez Canal, steam powered ships could knock up to two months off the journey time from the Far East, but sail powered ships could not take advantage of the Red Sea winds and consequently the once fast clippers became unprofitable, and by the 1870’s the Cutty Sark was no longer involved in the once profitable tea trade. In 1885 the Cutty Sark regained some success on the wool-
At the end of her heyday the Cutty Sark was sold to a Portuguese company, was renamed the Ferreira and ran cargo between Portugal, Africa, and the Americas. In the 1920’s she was purchased by a former clipper captain named Dowman who remembering her from her glory days, brought her back to the England where she was restored, renamed back to the Cutty Sark, and opened to the public. In 1936 when Dowman died, the ship came into the possession of the navy and was used as a training ship. In 1951 the Cutty Sark Society was established and with support from the Duke of Edinburgh funds were raised and in 1951 she was placed on permanent display in Greenwich and now represents Britain’s proud maritime heritage.
After the completion of a 40 million pound restoration programme during which the Cutty Sark was raised three metres above ground level and a steel and glass canopy placed at the level of the original waterline creating an image if the ship floating in water but forming a modern sophisticated space from which the ships sleek hull can be much admired, plus forming a unique space that can be utilised for all sorts of functions and events.
The weather deck and rigging has been restored to the ships original specification, below decks visitors can fully access the interior space and learn more about life on board by exploring the other restored decks including crew accommodation and through the use of interactive displays. Also on board is an interesting display of over 80 ship figureheads.