The world’s sole-surviving tea clipper, famous for her record-breaking passages around the globe.
Cutty Sark was built on the Clyde in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line and was one of the last tea clippers ever made – as well as one of the fastest.
The ship visited every major port in the world through the course of her working life. She spent just a few years in the tea trade before being used to transport wool from Australia; a journey for which she held the record time for ten years.
However, following improvements in steam technology the clipper was no longer fit for use and was sold to the Portuguese company Ferreira and Co. in 1895. She continued as a cargo ship until she was purchased by retired sea captain Wilfred Dowman in the 1920s who decided she should be preserved for the nation. Since then, the vessel has been berthed in Falmouth and Greenhithe, finally arriving at her current resting place in Greenwich in 1954.
Today the ship serves as a museum celebrating its illustrious maritime history. Visitors can go below deck to see artefacts and nautical memorabilia, or explore the cabins that once belonged to Cutty Sark crew.
The ship was badly damaged by fire in 2007 while undergoing conservation. It has since been restored and reopened to the public in 2012.
Cutty Sark has been raised over three metres allowing visitors the unique experience of walking underneath. This area is also used as a gallery, which holds the world's largest collection of ships' figureheads, donated to the Society by Sydney Cumbers in 1953. Included are representations of Florence Nightingale, Elizabeth Fry, William Wilberforce, Disraeli, Hiawatha and Sir Lancelot, most of which date from the 19th century and originate from all different types of merchant vessels.
Also in the collection, a wide range of paintings and drawings, archival documents, navigational tools and memorabilia connected to Robert Burns who wrote the poem ‘Tam O’Shanter’ from which Cutty Sark got her name.