For day four of the Greenwich.co.uk advent calendar, we look back at the re-opening of the Cutty Sark earlier this year with some photographs of the famous tea clipper.
THE NEWLY restored Cutty Sark has been name as 2012's best new tourism project by travel writers.
The famous tea clipper was chosen above Glasgow’s Riverside Transport Museum and Edinburgh’s redeveloped National Museum of Scotland by the British Guild of Travel Writers.
Richard Doughty, Director of Cutty Sark, who accepted the award, said:
“I am absolutely delighted Cutty Sark has been recognised by the British Guild of Travel Writers. The conservation of this national treasure has been one of the biggest and most complex maritime heritage projects ever undertaken and thanks are due to the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in the project.
"Already over 225,000 people have visited the ship during its first six months of trading."
The day before the Queen reopened Cutty Sark, local journalist Ed Ewing attended the Cutty Sark press day. Here's what he made of the restored tea clipper...
I am writing these words while sitting directly underneath the Cutty Sark. That’s a sentence I never imagined writing. I am enjoying a coffee and vanilla shortbread courtesy of the Cutty Sark café, which is also directly below the Cutty Sark.
It’s finally here, being opened tomorrow by the Queen, and to the public thereafter. And what’s it like? My first thoughts are that sitting here feels a little like sitting in the British Museum – it’s the glass and steel roof above you.
The second is that Harry Potter has a lot to answer for. Having just taken a self-guided tour of the ship I can tell you that it is full of ‘interactivity’. ‘Ghosts’ of long dead seamen pull faces at you from mirrors in the cabins; photographs rotate in digital displays of old newspapers; a Scottish voice lulls you with history in the new mini theatre.
Elsewhere, less digital artefacts catch the eye. A ship in a bottle made by someone onboard, elegant reconstructions of the tea chests, line-drawn plans of the ship that show how sleek she really is.
On deck it’s all go to get ready for the Queen. Painters are still painting, and TV crews step gingerly past anything white in case they come off worse. A gang of riggers walk along the top of the glass roof sweeping, wiping and polishing. Richard Doughty, the driving force of this whole £50m project, beats circuits of the ship with journalist after journalist, explaining the facts and the “journey”.
I ask one of the riggers where he’s from. Essex, he says, one of many interested sailors and modern day merchant seamen drawn from across the UK who have got involved in a “once in a lifetime” project to help restore the ship. He’s been working on it since January, when they put the masts up, and he’s now slicing the ends off ropes, making sure there are no loose ends.
It’s up on deck that the Cutty Sark feels like a ship. Down below, beneath the ship, or walking between decks on one of the very ordinary, functional staircases, it feels like an exhibit. It always was of course, but somehow it feels more permanent now, more museum-like. A little of the romance has gone, evaporated as she has been encased in glass, a giant ship in a bottle.
But she is still here, the Cutty Sark, she has not been completely swamped beneath glass and steel and push-button ‘story telling’. The ribs of her are still there, the rust that only a few years ago threatened to destroy her has now been stopped in its tracks and painted thickly white, the masts and rigging rise up proudly, their newness smelling of creosote and hemp.
The Queen will be here tomorrow. Next to me someone says, “This is nice,” and relaxes over her coffee. We will have acres of coverage of it over the next couple of days, and a good thing too. When the Cutty Sark project began it was not certain that it would succeed; when the ship burned it was a genuine setback.
She will no doubt be a success. The space beneath the ship feels like it has ‘corporate event’ stamped through its new, 2012, DNA.
The rigging will last 25 years at least, my rigger friend says. “If not 50.”
She’s not the same as she was, and you can’t imagine a drunken artist climbing the rigging to the very top on New Year’s Day, as rumours from the old days have it. She’s not as rustic, or as basic. But then she’s not rusting away in a heap either. And that’s got to be a good thing. She’s survived, and from the look of this, will go on surviving for a long time to come.
THE CUTTY SARK yesterday opened its doors to the paying public.
After the residents' day, a starring role in the London Marathon and an opening ceremony attended by the Queen, it was finally a chance for the general public to see the transformation that has taken place.
On board, visitors can learn about Cutty Sark's role in the tea trade, look up crew members from the archives, try to navigate from Australia to England and enjoy great views across London as well as look up to see eleven miles of rigging.
The iconic tea clipper, as has been well noted before, has now been raised by three metres, to create a new space below, called the Sammy Ofer Gallery, where there is the world's largest collection of merchant navy figureheads and a new cafe.
I asked Richard Doughty, Director of the Cutty Sark Trust, what it is about Cutty Sark that captures people's imagination:
HUNDREDS of people turned out this morning to witness the Queen's visit to Greenwich.
Despite the down-pouring of rain which has become a characteristic of this drought, a large crowd gathered in Cutty Sark Gardens over an hour before the monarch's arrival.
With no choice but to literally soak up the atmosphere, those gathered waved their flags while stirring tunes were played by Trinity Laban's Symphony Orchestra
Trumpets sounded to announce the imminent arrival and as if by royal arrangement, the rain seemed to stop. Those reluctant to take down their umbrellas were quickly urged to do so by crowd members keen to catch sight of the Queen who had minutes earlier officially named the royal barge Gloriana at Greenland Pier.
At 11.26, a Range Rover pulled up, bearing the Royal Standard, from which HM The Queen and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh emerged to be greeted by the mayor of Greenwich, Jim Gillman, the Leader of the Council, Chris Roberts, and the Council's Chief Executive, Mary Ney.
They were seated on a stage near the bow of the Cutty Sark where Councillor Roberts gave a short speech and Her Majesty was presented with a gift by the mayor. Prince Philip was given a framed certificate confirming the Freedom of the Royal Borough that he was awarded in March.
The Queen then unveiled a plaque to mark the opening of the newly re-landscaped Cutty Sark Gardens.
After listening to a suite of music, composed for the Queen's Jubilee and performed by children from across the borough, the royal guests received a bouquet (pictured top) and made their way in to the Cutty Sark as the crowd cheered. "Hello Queenie" was shouted from somewhere deep in the crowd.
The royal couple were then shown around the restored Cutty Sark. Prince Philip is the President of the Cutty Sark Trust and was instrumental in bringing the iconic tea clipper to Greenwich in the 1950s. The Queen unveiled a plaque to officially declare the Cutty Sark open, just as she first did in 1957.
The Queen is shown around the Cutty Sark by Lord Stirling. Photo: Tim Keeler
The Queen was then taken through the Old Royal Naval College, where she knighted Sir Francis Chichester in 1967, for an inspection of the King's Troop which moved from St John's Wood to Woolwich in February.
While the Queen was en route to the National Maritime Museum, a number of savvy onlookers lined the northern tip of the Greenwich Park, opposite the museum for a sighting that hadn't been publicised before. The crowd was entertained by music from the Royal Hospital School marching band as they waited for Her Majesty to arrive.
Once inside the museum, almost seventy-five years to the day since she attended its opening ceremony, the Queen was shown around the new Royal River exhibition by guest curator, David Starkey.
After about twenty-five minutes, the couple emerged, smiling, to find sunlight had started to break out. Passing the newly-installed Ship in a Bottle, they returned to their car and left as the line of onlookers cheered, clapped and waved flags.
Did you take any photos of the Queen? Tomorrow's Daily Photo will be dedicated to your pictures of Her Majesty's visit to Greenwich. Please send any contributions to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thanks to Frank for sending me this photo of the Cutty Sark's masts, clearly visible from Greenwich South Street. The tea clipper is now three metres higher than she used to be after the refurbishment raised her up to create a new space below.
THE FAMOUS tea clipper, Cutty Sark, will re-open to the public on April 26th, it has been announced.
The re-opening comes almost five years after she was ravaged by fire during a renovation project.
Cutty Sark has been, controversially, suspended three metres in the air, creating a new public space below it for visitors. The space will also be used as a private hire space for events, creating a new revenue stream for the cash-strapped project.
With the announcement of the re-opening, the ticket prices have also been revealed: entrance for an adult to the Cutty Sark will cost £12.
Children between the ages of 5 and 15 will get in for £6.50 and kids under 5 go free with an adult and there will be deals on family tickets available.
Holders of the council's Greenwich Card will qualify for the concessionary rate of £9.50.
It is expected that HM The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh, who is the president of the Cutty Sark Trust, will attend an official opening ceremony in April.