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Cutty Sark’s original structure

One of the unique aspects of Cutty Sark is the vast amount of the ship’s original structure which survives to today. Visitors have the opportunity to get up close and interact with the very structure that sailed the South China Seas and rounded Cape Horn. As a working vessel, the…

Life on board: the watch system

Life on board for the crew of Cutty Sark was dominated by the watch system. Everyone on board apart from the Master, Steward and the petty officers (carpenter, sailmaker, cook and bosun) were divided into two ‘watches’ – ‘port’ and ‘starboard’ watch. They would then alternate periods of duty, so…

Cutty Sark’s cargoes

We know Cutty Sark as a tea clipper but over her working career of 52 years she carried much else besides tea. The ship was built for the China tea trade and on the first three voyages she sailed directly to China, but after this she always sailed first to…

Object Focus: Cutty Sark’s figureheads – The Long John Silver Collection

The Long John Silver Collection of figureheads on display at Cutty Sark is a colourful and eclectic collection of characters, ranging from Sir Lancelot to William Wilberforce, Florence Nightingale to the Greek goddess Amphitrite, General Gordon to Abraham Lincoln. The collection is named after the donor Sydney Cumbers who, thanks…

Object focus : The Star of India and stern decoration

On the ‘Tween Deck of Cutty Sark, the Star of India is displayed – a carved wooden emblem originally fitted to the stern of the ship and once owned by John Willis, Cutty Sark’s owner. It represents the emblem of the Most Exalted Order of the Star of India which…

Object’s focus: The seaman’s chest

The crew of Cutty Sark would each have a small chest or bag in their cabin, in which they kept all their belongings while on board, except the clothes they was wearing. The crew also furnished their wooden bunks themselves with simple mattresses – sometimes known as a ‘Donkey’s Breakfast’…

Object focus: Cutty Sark’s bells

Cutty Sark had two bells on board – a 50lb bell with the ship’s name engraved on to it, which was located on the monkey foc’s’le (the raised deck at the bow) and a smaller bell on the poop deck, at the stern. The bell was primarily used to mark…