The working life of Cutty Sark
The ship was built to last just 30 years but actually served as a working ship for almost double that, 52 years. It was then a training ship for 22 years and for the past sixty years has been a visitor attraction at Greenwich.
Built for the tea trade
The Citty Sark was built expressly for the tea trade from China. During its career the ship carried an array of cargo including nearly 10 million lbs of tea from 1870 until 1877.
The Opening of the Suez Canal
The Suez Canal brought an end to the sailing ships employed in the tea trade so Cutty Sark was given a new role including transporting coal before being used to bring wool from Australia.
Famed for its speed
The Cutty Sark was at the forefront of clipper design and one of the fastest ships of its era. After 14 years of service the ship was recording the fastest times in the passage from Australia to England. Under the ships master, Richard Woodget, Cutty Sark was the most dominant ship bringing cargoes of wool back to England from Australia.
Surviving several difficulties
During the ships lifespan, Cutty Sark has survived heavy seas, war, neglect, fire and old age to still be in one piece in Greenwich. On two occasions the rudder was ripped off, de-masted during WW1 and a devastating fire in 2007.
Cutty Sark had a crew of 653 men when serving as a British merchant ship. Many of the crew only completed one round voyage from London and back again. Their ages ranged from 14 year old apprentices to sail makers in their 50’s. The crew was made up of more than 30 nationalities.
Changes of Name
When Cutty Sark was sold to a Portuguese company in 1895 the ship was renamed Ferreira and served for 27 years under that name before becoming the Maria do Amparo after another change of ownership.
On the Cutty Sark you will find the biggest collection in the world of figureheads, the carved wooden figures that sit at the prow of a ship.