Cutty-Sark.JPG (20566 bytes)Cutty Sark: On our trip to the United Kingdom (2002) we spent a few days in London. On one busy day we visited Kew Gardens in the morning and in the afternoon travelled across London and walked through Greenwich. Many years ago some of our relatives lived in the area. In a dry dock, at Greenwich, the Cutty Sark is moored. This was the world’s most famous tea clipper.
She was built at Dumbarton, Scotland and launched in 1869. The name comes from poem by Robert Burns and describes a short shirt worn by a witch. The Cutty Sark’s figurehead represents this witch.
The Cutty Sark has a sleek, streamlined shape and enormous area of sail. The shape and sail area made her the fastest ship on the profitable tea trade with China. Unfortunately the opening of the Suez Canal coincided with the launch of the Cutty Sark. The canal is not navigable by sailing ships. The last tea cargo was carried in 1877.
From 1885 to 1895 the Cutty Sark had an Australian connection. She was used to carry wool from Sydney to London. Every year she set new speed records.
In 1895 the Cutty Sark was sold to the Portuguese and renamed Ferreira. This was her official name. The crew called her Pequina Camisola (“Little Shirt”). This was a reference to her “bewitching” original name.
The ship had a chequered career until 1954 when she was placed in a special dry dock, beside the Thames, at Greenwich. Cutty Sark was opened to the public in 1957. Since then 13 million people have visited this triumph of British ship building. It was too late to see the ship when we arrived. Otherwise it would have been 13 million and two visitors.