The Cutty Sark, on display and available for tours, is located in Greenwich. The 1869 sailing ship was used to haul tea, then wool. It was the world’s last tea ship. It was preserved partly as a memorial to the men of the merchant navy. A new visitor centre is open as of April 2007. Interactive displays and the history of the ship as well as a re-creation of the master’s saloon can be accessed at the visitor centre. Twenty facts about the Cutty Sark
1. A "cutty sark" is a short shift. It comes from a poem by Robbie Burns, ‘Tam O’Shanter’, when Tam, a young lad sees some witches dancing in the wood, one of whom is wearing a very revealing Cutty Sark.
2. More than 15 million visitors have boarded Cutty Sark.
3. She achieved a record-breaking wind powered voyage from Australia to England - 72 days in 1885 via Cape Horn.
4. The ship sailed in the Australia wool trade 1883-1895.
5. Cutty Sark’s most celebrated Master, Captain Woodget, introduced a breed of collie dogs to New South Wales. He was also an accomplished amateur photographer, photographing the crew and the ship’s voyages – including a dramatic encounter with an iceberg.
6. The Suez Canal was opened just before work on Cutty Sark was completed. This passage quickly made tea clippers redundant as steamers could benefit from a shorter sea route, the Mediterranean, while the sailing ships still had to work the Trade Winds, out and home by the Cape of Good Hope.
7. The Cutty Sark was the first preserved ship open to the public worldwide since Golden Hinde was exhibited in Deptford in 1580.
8. The crew had lavatories called 'the heads', a modern convenience for the times—it was the norm to simply squat over the side of the ship.
9. Seaman John Francis was killed, the crew mutinied, and Captain Wallace committed suicide during the so-called “Hell Ship” voyage in the early 1880s.
10. The ship employs a team of riggers to maintain the eleven miles of rigging.
11. She carried 32,000 square feet of canvas sails, equivalent to the area of 11 tennis courts.
12. When the weather was good everyone on board worked at least a 12 hour day, 7 days a week, and, in bad weather, they would be on deck may more hours under cold, wet, and dangerous conditions.
13. While passing Cape Horn the deck of the ship was washed down by the great, breaking sea rollers. The ship would heel forty degrees and the crew cling on for dear life as they climbed into the rigging to shorten sail before the storm.
14. Greenwich University’s Department of Computational Mechanics have built a virtual Cutty Sark to test the stresses and strains on the ship.
15. Stephen Payne, designer of Queen Mary 2 repeatedly visited Cutty Sark as a boy. He admits that Cutty Sark was a great inspiration for his designs for the new ship.
16. Cutty Sark was under Portuguese ownership from l895-1922 and renamed first as Ferreira and then as Maria do Amparo.
17. On the bow of the ship is the motto: ‘Where there's a Willis a way', a play on the name of the first owner, Jock, 'White Hat’ Willis.
18. The ship was built at Dumbarton in 1869 at a cost of £16,150.
19. The exacting specifications and making of Cutty Sark bankrupted her first shipyard, Scott & Linton; she had to be completed by Dennys.
20. The Cutty Sark sailed in the China tea trade from 1870-1877/78.
2 Greenwich Church St, Greenwich
Tel. 0 20 8858 2698
Open: daily, 19am,-5pm, last entry 4pm
Parking in town centre and car parks; shop; no refreshments
Website: Cutty Sark
Photos courtesy Hampshire Cam and Visit East London
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