Constructed 150 years ago, the Cutty Sark represented the pinnacle of shipbuilding innovation. As a tea clipper, its primary purpose was transporting goods to Shanghai for trade, specifically tea destined for the UK. Remarkably, it had the capacity to carry a staggering 1,305,812 pounds of tea, a quantity sufficient to produce nearly 300 million cups!
Having served as a trading ship for several years, the advent of steamships rendered the Cutty Sark less practical, leading to its eventual relocation to Portugal. In the early 1920s, a retired captain purchased and repurposed it as a training ship. Not until 1954 was it towed to Greenwich, where a comprehensive restoration was undertaken, culminating in its opening to the public.
The Cutty Sark faced a setback in 2007 when a fire caused substantial damage to three decks. However, thanks to the support of the Heritage Lottery Fund, the ship underwent another meticulous restoration and reopened to the public in 2012.
Visiting the Cutty Sark is an absolute must for anyone planning a trip to Greenwich, offering a captivating journey through maritime history and the golden age of sailing ships. The Cutty Sark can be seen at the Greenwich Pier, just steps from a Thames River Sightseeing location.
Explore the ship
See every aspect of the ship above and below deck, including what it looks like underneath the hull. There are films and interactive games as well as being able to see – and smell – the type of cargo that would have been carried on board. You can even take the wheel on deck to try and imagine what it would have been like to be in charge of this ship as it sailed the high seas.
Meet the crew
At weekends and school holidays, you can find out more about life on board by chatting to the characters who lived on board. They’ll tell you what daily life was like, describe what was on the menu for dinner, and how they entertained themselves during their voyages.
For younger children, there are free explorer trails that will take them around the ship at their own pace. It’s a hands-on museum, so they can touch things without being told off, and also take part in activities. For the under 5s, you can borrow a special backpack of toys, sensory objects and stories to keep them entertained.