Cutty Sark

All Aboard The Cutty Sark

Step aboard the historic Cutty Sark, the world’s last remaining tea clipper ship, for a unique and interactive step back in time the whole family will enjoy.

Highlights

  • Walk beneath the ship’s hull and look up to admire the sheer scale and design of the Cutty Sark.
  • Take hold of the ship’s wheel and learn to steer this Victorian tea clipper.
  • Visit the Captain’s cabin and contrast the relative comfort of his room compared to where the rest of the crew ate and slept.

What to See and Do

Step Aboard

Step back in time and explore the lovingly restored decks of the Cutty Sark. Touch the original structure built in 1869 and see the conditions in which the crew worked and lived. Take control of the ship’s wheel and imagine you are the Captain navigating this historic tea clipper. Films, interactive exhibits and digital games allow you to learn all about life on board the Cutty Sark in Victorian times.

Meet the Crew

As you explore the main deck meet some of the crew who sailed the Cutty Sark around the world in days gone by. Listen to the incredible stories about life at sea in Victorian times, including those of Captain Woodgett, who was the ship’s longest serving master. Other characters you may run into aboard this historic tea clipper are the ship’s cook James Robson and the man who built the Cutty Sark, Jock Willis.

Admire the Figureheads

The Cutty Sark has a stunning figurehead called Nannie which you can see on the ship’s exterior. However, the Cutty Sark also houses the largest collection of merchant navy figureheads in the world. See the incredible attention to detail given to creating these figureheads which include representations of Florence Nightingale, Benjamin Disraeli, Sir Lancelot and many more.

Explore the Trails

The Cutty Sark is a true family day out which everyone can enjoy. By picking up a family trail pack from the admissions area you can explore this fascinating ship as a family, leaning all about its past together. The interactive displays and games as you go round will help keep your kids entertained and help spark their interest in the history surrounding them.

Step Under the Cutty Sark

One of the unique parts of any visit to the Cutty Sark is the chance to walk beneath it and reach up to touch the gleaming, copper hull of the ship. Protected by a glass canopy which extends around the ship you can get a true impression of the design which made the Cutty Sark the fastest clipper in the world. This spectacular space under the hull is used for music and theatrical events too, providing a venue with a difference.

Did you know: (5 interesting facts!)

  1. The Cutty Sark took its name from a garment worn by a witch in a Robert Burns poem, ‘Tom O’Shanter’. The garment is a short nightdress and the witch was called Nannie, who is represented in the ship’s figurehead.
  1. Crew size on the Cutty Sark could vary but was generally around 26 people. As a British ship up to the point when it was sold, 653 crew served on the Cutty Sark and they could be as young as 14 years old and come from countries around the world.
  1. In 1895 the builder of the Cutty Sark sold off his complete fleet to a Portuguese company. For the next 27 years the Cutty Sark was known as the Ferreira before having a brief spell as Maria do Amparo.
  1. In 1922 Wilfred Dowman spotted the Cutty Sark in Falmouth awaiting repairs. He had once been an apprentice on the ship and with his wife, Catharine, decided to buy the Cutty Sark and restore it for the nation.
  1. In 2007 the Cutty Sark experienced a devastating fire. However, there was an element of fortune amid the horror, as major conservation work was already under way. This meant large parts of the ship, including the masts, were in storage and 90% of the ship visitors see is from the original.

 History

  • November 1869 – Cutty Sark launched from Dumbarton.
  • February 1870 – Ship’s first voyage departs London bound for Shanghai.
  • July 1895 –  As steam ships take over trade routes the Cutty Sark is sold to a Portuguese firm and renamed Ferreira.
  • 1922 – Wilfred Dowman buys the Cutty Sark in Falmouth and sets to restoring ship, which is used for training cadets
  • 1954 – Cutty Sark towed to Greenwich, undergoes restoration and opens to public in June 1957
  • May 2007 – Fire hits the Cutty Sark while undergoing conservation work
  • April 2012 – The Queen officially re-opens the Cutty Sark following extensive conservation work

Facilities and Accessibility

The Cutty Sark is wheelchair accessible with lifts providing access to all levels. Parts of the main deck can not be accessed by wheelchair, with virtual access provided. However, there is a limit placed on the number of wheelchairs permitted at any one time on the ship for health and safety reasons. 

To approach the Cutty Sark there is a step-free route from Greenwich Pier and King William Walk. As well as large print and Braille guides, audio tours narrate the ship’s story for blind and partially sighted visitors.

Toilets and baby changing facilities are positioned in the access tower across from the main deck. The cafe on the lower ground deck, beneath the hull, serves a range of sandwiches, cakes and drinks, as well as an afternoon tea offering. Toilets can also be located by the cafe. 

Also beneath the ship’s hull you will find the gift shop, stocked with a range of gifts, toys, souvenirs and jewellery as keepsakes with which to remember your visit.