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Captain's Log

April 2012

Cutty Sark Reopens

Cutty Sark Reopens to the public

Cutty Sark Reopens to the public

26 April 2012 - Cutty Sark, the world’s last remaining tea clipper reopens to the public following a £50 million restoration project that has seen almost 90% of the original 143-year-old vessel painstakingly conserved.

Originally built in 1869 and intended for the highly-competitive trade in tea from the Far East, she was made redundant by the completion of the Suez Canal, which made steam ships more economical. Cutty Sark went on to earn her living, and incredible reputation for speed and beauty, in the wool trade from Australia - where the huge distances involved made sail the only practical option. Eventually superseded by steam ships on this route too, Cutty Sark was sold to a Portuguese company before serving for a time as a sail training ship. Upon retirement in 1954, she was moved to a purpose-built dry dock in Greenwich, London, and became a national landmark.

By 2006 Cutty Sark was suffering corrosion from seawater and rain, and distortion from sitting 50 years on her keel, so the decision was taken to fully restore the vessel. On 21 May 2007, she was virtually destroyed by a fire, although fortunately much of the original materials including cabins, deck features, and the masts and rigging had been moved off-site for restoration so were saved.

Now, after five years of meticulous restoration, Cutty Sark is once again open to the public. She has been raised by 3m and housed within a spectacular glass gallery to enable visitors to venture aboard, and beneath her keel to appreciate her elegant lines and ground-breaking design. Nauticalia Managing Director, Chris Murdoch, was invited to a sneak preview last week whilst the finishing touches were being made, and said “Nauticalia has supported Cutty Sark's conservation for decades, with donations from our customers and royalties paid on the sale of commemorative products. So I’m delighted to see her preserved in this amazing gallery – an architectural triumph safeguarding part of our maritime heritage for generations.”

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