£25 million spent on tea clipper
The Queen and Prince Philip will re-open the Cutty Sark on 25 April. The world’s last surviving tea clipper and one of Britain’s greatest maritime treasures,has undergone an extensive conservation project, with major support totalling £25 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund. The following day the ship opens to visitors for the first time since 2006.
Lord Sterling, Chairman of both Royal Museums Greenwich and the Cutty Sark Trust, said “Cutty Sark holds a unique place in the heart for the people of Greenwich, Great Britain and indeed the rest of the world, and it is splendid that she is re-joining the London skyline once again. Cutty Sark is set in the newly landscaped Cutty Sark Gardens, created by Greenwich Council, one of our strongest supporters. We are indebted to those members of the public, from all over the world, who have generously contributed to the preservation of this much loved national treasure. We are also deeply appreciative of the many other major institutions, government bodies and foundations that have played a key role in providing the funds. In particular, our deep thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund who have supported the project and stood by Cutty Sark through its difficult times, particularly following the fire, and allocating £25 million of public money raised through the National Lottery.
Cutty Sark’s re-launch comes in an exceptional year for Greenwich, which was granted the status of Royal Borough in February, and will have the eyes of the world upon it during The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer. On 25 June 1957 Her Majesty opened Cutty Sark to the public for the first time and we are delighted that on 25 April, this year, The Queen and HRH Duke of Edinburgh, who has been President of the Cutty Sark Trust since 1951, will return to re-open the ship.”
Richard Doughty, Director of the Cutty Sark Trust, said: “We have been privileged to be involved in conserving Cutty Sark and restoring her to her key position in the Greenwich World Heritage Site. Our solution, a world first, will secure Cutty Sark’s future so that she can continue to inspire many new generations of adventurers at the heart of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.”
Kevin Fewster, Director of Royal Museums Greenwich, said: “Cutty Sark is an iconic London landmark and a much loved part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Bringing Cutty Sark into the Royal Museums Greenwich family strengthens the links between some of the key attraction of this unique World Heritage Site and helps us to explore the extraordinary maritime stories we have to tell.”
The re-launch marks the start of an exciting new chapter in the extraordinary life of the world famous, three-masted clipper. It is the culmination of six years’ work and one of the most complex conservation projects ever undertaken on a historic ship. The project has succeeded in rescuing Cutty Sark and preventing her collapse, whilst preserving as much of the ship’s original fabric from the period of her working life as possible. Moreover, the innovative scheme also provides generations to come with a new way to engage with the ship and explore her history.
In a brilliant feat of engineering, Cutty Sark has been raised 11 feet (3.3 meters) into the air, relieving the keel of the weight of the ship and preserving her unique shape. For the first time, visitors can walk underneath the ship and view the elegant lines of her hull, revealing the innovative design which was the secret to her success – enabling her to reach the record-breaking speed of 17 ½ knots (20 mph/32kmph) from Sydney to London. The space also showcases Cutty Sark’s extensive collection of over 80 ships’ figureheads, never before displayed in its entirety on the site.
The ship’s weather deck and rigging have been painstakingly restored to their original specification, with 11 miles (17.5 km) of rigging supporting the masts. Below deck visitors can explore Cutty Sark’s rich and varied history through new interactive exhibitions.
Launched in 1869 from Dumbarton, Scotland, Cutty Sark visited most major ports around the world. She carried cargo ranging from the finest teas to gunpowder, and from whisky to buffalo horns. Cutty Sark made her name as the fastest ship of her era during her time in the wool trade. Many of the tea clippers that sailed the China Seas during the nineteenth century lasted for only a few years and only seven saw the twentieth century. By the mid-1920s Cutty Sark was the only one still afloat and from 1938 became a training ship for the Incorporated Thames Training College at Greenhithe.
In December 1954, due to the great efforts of The Duke of Edinburgh, Cutty Sark came to Greenwich where she became, and remains, a memorial to the great days of sail and to all those who served in the merchant service.