The Cutty Sark is Greenwich’s crown jewel and one of the many great tourist attractions in the area. Those looking for a brilliant way to spend their afternoon in Greenwich needn’t look any further than the Cutty Sark, the glistening ship overlooking the Thames. This area is already beautiful and idyllic, especially come summer time, so even just observing this majestic ship is a great pleasure. So, what is the Cutty Sark? And what is there that you may not find out during a quick visit? Like many of London’s monuments, the rich histories incorporated give you a wealth of material to explore when it comes to learning more about the city your visiting. If you’re staying at luxury hotels for families in London, then the Cutty Sark is a must for your tourist checklist.

Clipper Cutty Sark Museum

What is the Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark is a the renovated 19th century Tea Clipper, a ship used for transporting goods across the world. It was originally part of the Jock Willis Shipping Line and built in 1869. The ship itself was used to transport a vast range of goods including tea to China and wool from Australia. This has earned the ship a place in the history books and is also a potent reminder of what trials and hardships await those who join the merchant navy.

What is a Cutty Sark?

Alongside being the name of the ship itself, the Cutty Sark earned its name from a poem by Robert Burns in the year 1791 named Tam O shanter. The poem describes a witch named Nannie Dee who wore a linen sark or short chemise, as she danced around a fire. The subject of the poem, Tam describes how the sark was given to Nannie Dee as a child and hence why it was “cutty” or too short for Nannie Dee. This became the figurehead of the ship, and originally included pictures of other scantily clad witches. However, these were swiftly removed by the Master due to matters of “good taste”.

Cutty Sark as memorial

The Cutty Sark also acts as a symbol of respect to the Merchant Navy. The Merchant Navy are responsible for the transporting of goods by sea in and out of the UK, giving us a means of export to keep the country making money. Especially during war time, the merchant navy are at great risk of being attacked. This was especially true of the two world wars, as the UK needed imports to keep afloat during the war and to keep up the war effort across the world. This has led to the likes of Prince Phillip promoting the order and has meant that the Cutty Sark remains a bastion to the British heroism of past centuries.

Cutty Sark renovation

The Cutty Sark has survived many unfortunate occurrences, even after it was made obsolete by steam in naval travel. The ship itself has seen its fair share of faults, oil spills whilst also having survived terrible storms over the years. The most recent renovation of the ship happened after the famous 2007 fire, costing around 10 million over almost a decade. With the renovation came the use of paint systems to prevent decay alongside the building of a glass roof at the ships water line, making sure that everything below the hull was protected from the damaging effects of the London weather. The Cutty Sark has had many parts of its original decking replaced, albeit as faithfully as possible.

From Scotland to Shanghai

Originally built in Scotland, the Cutty Sark has had many amazing journeys across the world. The first of which took it to Shanghai, a surprisingly fast trip since the Cutty Sark, at it’s peak, was the fastest ship of its time. This would still be an uncomfortably long time to be at sea, even if the ships cabins were as comfy as those of the Montcalm Brewery Hotel London. The maiden voyage brought a range of wine, spirit and beer all the way to China, bringing back around 1.3 million pounds worth of tea to the UK. This just goes to show that back in its day, the Cutty Sark was an important of the British overseas trade, making sure that products arrived safely and as quickly as possible.

The redundancy of the Cutty Sark

Unfortunately, come the rise of the steam age, the Cutty Sark became a redundant ship and was sold off. This happened a lot during the times of the industrial revolution of the 19th century, leading to amss unemployment and protests. The problem was that many people had to be retrained for different roles, much like in the current climate and age of automated technology.

Master Woodget from Australia to England

One of the most respected captains of the Cutty Sark was Master Woodget, who, during the ships peak would sail the ship from Australia to England in record times. This led to the ships worldwide praise as one of the best in the country.

Portuguese ownership

After it became redundant in the British Merchant Navy, the ship was sold to the Portuguese. The Cutty Sark’s name was changed to Ferreira after her selling for £2,100, a lot for the day. After the Portuguese declared war on Germany, the ship was inc osntant danger of being sunk during its trips around the Portuguese colonies.

Wilfred Dowman saves the day

After the Ferreira’s dismasting due to bad weather, it was towed to a port in Table Bay, South Africa. It was again towed to safety in 1922 into Falmouth. Here it was recognised by an old skipper by the name of Wilfred Dowman and his wife Catharine. The two went about buying the ship and this eventually led to its restoration.

At stern of the figurehead craze

With such a noticeable figurehead for the Cutty Sark, it is surprising to learn that there were quite a few others. All of these can be found within the ship itself upon visiting and show the sheer care and creativity which went into creating ship figureheads during this time.