When it was built 150 years ago, the Cutty Sark was at the cutting edge of shipbuilding. It was a tea clipper built to take goods to Shanghai to trade for tea to bring back to the UK – it had the capacity to carry 1,305,812 lbs of tea, which would probably have ended up making nearly 300 million cups of tea! The Cutty Sark worked as a trading ship for a number of years but the advent of steam ships made it less useful and it ended up in Portugal. In the early 1920s, it was bought by a retired captain who converted it for use as a training ship. It wasn’t until 1954 that it was towed to Greenwich where it was fully restored and opened to the public.
In 2007 a fire caused extensive damage to three decks, but thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund, it was restored once more and reopened to the public in 2012.
If you’re planning a trip to Greenwich, it’s not to be missed!
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 onboard. 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 onboard by chatting to the characters who lived onboard. 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.