Back from the dead: The Queen reopens the restored Cutty Sark

Nov 2011
Bolton, UK
The Queen has reopened the historic Cutty Sark clipper, five years after the historic ship was ravaged by fire.

The Cutty Sark was built in 1869 for the Jock Willis shipping line. She was one of the last and one of the fastest tea clippers.

After a few years importing tea to Britain from China, she turned to the trade in wool from Australia, where she held the record time to Britain for ten years.

She was then sold to the Portugese company Ferreira and Co. in 1895, and renamed Ferreira. She continued as a cargo ship until purchased by retired sea captain Wilfred Dowman in 1922, who used her as a training ship operating from Falmouth, Cornwall. After his death she was transferred to the Thames Nautical Training College, Greenhithe in 1938 where she became an auxilliary cadet training ship alongside HMS Worcester. By 1954 she had ceased to be useful as a cadet ship and was transferred to permanent dry dock at Greenwich in London on public display. She became one of the capital's great landmarks and tourist attractions.

However, in 2007 it was feared that the beautiful old ship was lost forever when she was ravaged by fire during conservation work. However, the damage was not as bad as first feared and she was lovingly restored back to her former glory.

Yesterday she was officially opened to the public again by Her Majesty. The beautiful ship has now been raised about 15ft off the ground to protect her hull. A glass canopy which goes around the ship around halfway down her hull will allow visitors to walk underneath and gaze up at the ship. The glass canopy protects her hull from being distorted by bad weather which happened in the past. Under the canopy is a gallery, café and entertainment space.

Prince Philip co-founded the Cutty Sark Society in 1951 to safeguard the vessel. He came to Greenwich soon after the fire to assess the damage for himself

The Queen also officially named the barge on which she will sail during the Diamond Jubilee River Pageant along the Thames in June as "Gloriana" - the televised event will see the largest flotilla to sail down the Thames since the reign of Charles II - and she made the London Borough of Greenwich a Royal Borough.

Cutty Sark: Queen reopens Greenwich tea clipper

BBC News
25th April 2012

The Queen officially opened the historic ship after a £50m restoration project

The Queen has officially reopened the Cutty Sark in Greenwich five years after it was ravaged by fire.

The clipper, which has been restored at a cost of more than £50m, is now elevated so visitors can see it from underneath as well as climb aboard.

The Queen originally opened the 19th Century tea clipper exhibit in 1957.

Accompanied by the Duke of Edinburgh, she also officially named the Gloriana which will lead the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in June.

Crowds cheered in driving rain as the royal couple descended a gangway at Greenland Pier, on the Thames in London's Docklands, before going on board the Gloriana.


The 94-foot vessel, decorated with gold leaf and ornately carved, harks back 200 years to when kings and queens travelled by water in opulent style.

The Queen last visited Cutty Sark in 1957

At one point Prince Philip could be heard advising the Queen to keep under cover after she had been to inspect the stern of the boat, which bears royal symbols and the vessel's name.

After the Queen unveiled the Cutty Sark, the royal couple moved inside to view the clipper's cramped decks that during its working life were filled with tea from China.

It was feared that the Cutty Sark had been irretrievably damaged when she was ravaged by fire whilst undergoing conservation in 2007.

But now she is back to her former glory: Thousands of London Marathon runners passed the restored Cutty Sark on Sunday.

Richard Doughty, director of the Cutty Sark Trust, described the vessel as "spectacular" and said: "We have a ship fit for the Queen and we're very proud Her Majesty and the Duke of Edinburgh have come to open the site.

"Fifty-five years on from when she first came, it's a very different experience, offering a light environment in the Cutty Sark's new elevated position."

The 2007 fire was caused by an industrial vacuum cleaner which had been left switched on for two days while a conservation project was being carried out to repair Cutty Sark's iron framework.

Fortunately, the ship's masts, saloon and deckhouses had been removed and put into storage in Kent when the fire took hold.

Royal borough

The Cutty Sark Trust, which received funding from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and the Heritage Lottery Fund, as well as donations from the public, aims to present the tea clipper as it would have looked when it was launched in 1872.

It opens to the public on Thursday.

Prince Philip has a long association with the ship, co-founding the Cutty Sark Society in 1951 to safeguard the vessel.

The Queen also officially named the Gloriana, which will lead the Thames Diamond Jubilee Pageant in June

He came to Greenwich soon after the fire to assess the damage for himself and Mr Doughty said that the Duke had given up his association with a number of bodies when he turned 90 last year but maintained his relationship with the society, now a trust.

The visitor attraction has a new design which allows visitors to move both aboard and underneath the three-masted sailing ship where visitors can learn about its history in an interactive museum.

The Queen also unveiled a plaque to mark Greenwich becoming a royal borough, an honour bestowed to mark her Diamond Jubilee.

The royal couple also opened an exhibition, entitled Royal River: Power Pageantry & the Thames, at the National Maritime Museum.

BBC News - Cutty Sark: Queen reopens Greenwich tea clipper
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Apr 2011
Melbourne Australia
What a wonderful piece of news. I visited the old lady before she burned and was heartbroken to hear of the disaster. I'm also glad to see the collection of figureheads was saved.
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Ad Honorem
Jul 2011
I visited Cutty Sark about 20 years ago, and was very sad to hear of the damage. The restoration looks fantastic.:)