visited Cutty Sark in Greenwich

visited Cutty Sark in Greenwich

[ Aug.2019 ] We got on Cutty Sark, the sailing ship exhibited in Greenwich in the east London for the first time.

It is a museum on the land, not on the sea.

When we visited Greenwich earlier this year, we had been satisfied only by looking at it from outside, but because our friend from Japan was interested, we decided to get on on this occasion.

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the guide with the white top hat

We went down to the bottom of the ship first, because the guide who was pretending to be the owner of the ship, John Willis was giving the guiding tour.

Apparently the white top hat was his signature.

Cutty Sark was built in 1869 as a ‘Tea Clipper’ and it was one of the fastest and one of the newest.

Tea Clippers are fast sail ships made to transport tea leaves, British people’s essential drink, from China to Britain.

Because they had to be fast, the shape was longer and narrower than ordinary sail ships.

They built many of them in the middle of the 19th century.

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the floor of inside the ship looking like tea boxes

In fact, they really had some races for their speed.

The guide told us about one race Cutty Sark participated against its long-time rival, Thermopylae.

Cutty Sark got off to a good start, but on the way, it had a trouble and it took time to repair it, so in the end it lost.

It travelled between China and Britain in between 107 and 122 days.

But it just happened that 5 days before its launch, the Suez Canal opened.  

The steamships went through the Canal, but because Cutty Sark was a sailboat, it could not sail the Mediterranean where there were hardly any winds, so it had to go round the African continent.

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the figurehead, the witch with the horse tail

So in a few years time, the steamships took over the tea trading which the freshness was important.

Therefore Cutty Sark’s life as a Tea Clipper was short.

After tea trading it was used for wool trading from Australia for a while and in 1895 Mr.Willis sold it to Portugal.

Portuguese people used it for trading between Portugal and its colonies but in 1922, an English captain bought it and since 1951 it has been exhibited here in Greenwich.

This is the only Tea Clipper left in the world.

The name, Cutty Sark came from a witch created by a poet, Robert Burns.

Because she was wearing short (cutty) chemise (sark in Scottish), people called her Cutty Sark.

She ran after the main character of the poem, Tam o’Shanter and pulled out the tail of Tam’s horse.

So the figurehead of Cutty Sark is the witch holding the horse tail.

By the way, Cutty Sark always reminded me of the fire.

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outside view of Cutty Sark

It happened in May 2007 and damaged it badly.

The cause of the fire was the vacuum cleaner which was left connected to the power.

At that time, Cutty Sark was under the restoration work, so closed to the public and the fire happened early in the morning, so nobody was there, which was somewhat lucky.

They invested a lot of money to restore it and eventually it was opened to the public again in 2012 apparently.

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