Cutty Sark Reopens 25 April 2012

Her Majesty The Queen Reopens Cutty Sark on 25 April 2012

On Wednesday 25 April, Her Majesty The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness, The Duke of Edinburgh, officially re-opens Cutty Sark.

The Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving tea clipper and one of Britain’s greatest maritime treasures, will be reopened following an extensive conservation project, with major support totalling £25 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF). The following day (26 April) the ship opens to visitors for the first time since 2006. 

Also, today (13 April 2012) the Trustees of Cutty Sark and the Trustees of Royal Museums Greenwich are pleased to announce that following her completion, the ship will come under the operational management of Royal Museums Greenwich. 

Lord Sterling, Chairman of Royal Museums Greenwich and the Cutty Sark Trust, said:

Cutty Sark holds a unique place in the heart for the people of Greenwich, Great Britain and indeed the rest of the world, and it is splendid that she is re-joining the London skyline once again. Cutty Sark is set in the newly-landscaped Cutty Sark Gardens, created by Greenwich Council, one of our strongest supporters. We are indebted to those members of the public, from all over the world, who have generously contributed to the preservation of this much-loved national treasure. We are also deeply appreciative of the many other major institutions, government bodies and foundations that have played a key role in providing the funds. In particular, our deep thanks to the Heritage Lottery Fund who have supported the project and stood by Cutty Sark through its difficult times, particularly following the fire, and allocating £25 million of public money raised through the National Lottery.

Councillor Chris Roberts, Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, said: ‘The Cutty Sark is an iconic symbol of our Maritime Heritage and I’m proud of the role we have played in restoring and conserving the ship and the surrounding Gardens. A significant number of local residents were employed on the project and hundreds of local schoolchildren are looking forward to welcoming The Queen and HRH Duke of Edinburgh when they visit Greenwich for the first time since bestowing Royal Status upon us. Whilst it promises to be a day to remember for everyone involved, the ship will provide lasting memories for the 18 million people who visit Royal Greenwich each year and view the borough's most iconic gateway.’

Cutty Sark’s re-launch comes in an exceptional year for Greenwich, which was granted the status of Royal Borough in February, and will have the eyes of the world upon it during The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the London 2012 Olympic Games this summer. On 25 June 1957 Her Majesty opened Cutty Sark to the public for the first time and we are delighted that on 25 April, this year, The Queen and HRH Duke of Edinburgh, who has been President of the Cutty Sark Trust since 1951, will return to re-open the ship.’

Richard Doughty, Director of the Cutty Sark Trust, said: ‘We have been privileged to be involved in conserving Cutty Sark and restoring her to her key position in the Greenwich World Heritage Site. Our solution, a world first, will secure Cutty Sark’s future so that she can continue to inspire many new generations of adventurers at the heart of the Royal Borough of Greenwich.’

Kevin Fewster, Director of Royal Museums Greenwich, said: ‘Cutty Sark is an iconic London landmark and a much loved part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. Bringing Cutty Sark into the Royal Museums Greenwich family strengthens the links between some of the key attraction of this unique World Heritage Site and helps us to explore the extraordinary maritime stories we have to tell.’ 

The re-launch marks the start of an exciting new chapter in the extraordinary life of the world famous, three-masted clipper. It is the culmination of six years’ work and one of the most complex conservation projects ever undertaken on a historic ship. The project has succeeded in rescuing Cutty Sark and preventing her collapse, whilst preserving as much of the ship’s original fabric from the period of her working life as possible. Moreover, the innovative scheme also provides generations to come with a new way to engage with the ship and explore her history.

In a brilliant feat of engineering, Cutty Sark has been raised 11 feet (3.3 meters) into the air, relieving the keel of the weight of the ship and preserving her unique shape. For the first time, visitors can walk underneath the ship and view the elegant lines of her hull, revealing the innovative design which was the secret to her success – enabling her to reach the record-breaking speed of 17 ½ knots (20 mph/32kmph) from Sydney to London. The space also showcases Cutty Sark’s extensive collection of over 80 ships’ figureheads, never before displayed in its entirety on the site. 

The ship’s weather deck and rigging have been painstakingly restored to their original specification, with 11 miles (17.5 km) of rigging supporting the masts. Below deck visitors can explore Cutty Sark’s rich and varied history through new interactive exhibitions.

Launched in 1869 from Dumbarton, Scotland, Cutty Sark visited most major ports around the world. She carried cargo ranging from the finest teas to gunpowder and from whisky to buffalo horns. Cutty Sark made her name as the fastest ship of her era during her time in the wool trade. Many of the tea clippers that sailed the China Seas during the 19th century lasted for only a few years and only seven saw the 20th century. By the mid-1920s Cutty Sark was the only one still afloat and from 1938 became a training ship for the Incorporated Thames Training College at Greenhithe.

In December 1954, due to the great efforts of The Duke of Edinburgh, Cutty Sark came to Greenwich where she became, and remains, a memorial to the great days of sail and to all those who served in the merchant service.

Information for visitors

  • Tickets to Cutty Sark can be purchased online at

  • Opening times: Tuesday-Sunday, 10.00 – 17.00 (open bank holidays, closed 25–26 December and Mondays until 26 November). 

  • Visitor enquiries: 020 8858 2698. 

  • Admission: Adult £12 / Concession £9.50 /child £6.50 (aged 5–15) / Family tickets £20 (1 adult and 2 children), £29 (2 adults and up to 2 children). 
    Bundled tickets will be available with the other Royal Museums Greenwich (RMG) attractions. 

  • Transport: Cutty Sark is located a short walk from the Cutty Sark DLR, and Maze Hill and Greenwich train stations. The closest tube stations are North Greenwich (to change to local buses) and Canary Wharf (to change to DLR), both on the Jubilee line.

Cutty Sark Trust – In 1951 The Cutty Sark Preservation Society was formed by Frank Carr, Director of the National Maritime Museum, and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh to ensure the preservation of Cutty Sark, the world’s sole surviving tea clipper. The Cutty Sark Trust, a charity registered in 2000, is the successor of The Cutty Sark Preservation Society. The Trust’s objectives are to conserve, maintain, interpret and display Cutty Sark, promoting access to formal and informal learning opportunities. 

  • Royal Museums Greenwich holds the world’s largest maritime collection. It is housed in historic buildings forming part of the Maritime Greenwich World Heritage Site. It incorporates the National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory Greenwich, and 17th-century Queen’s House. The museums work to illustrate for everyone the importance of the sea, ships, time and the stars and their relationship with people. Royal Museums Greenwich welcomes over 1.8 million British and international visitors a year and is also a major centre of education and research. For more information visit

  • Using money raised through the National Lottery, the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) sustains and transforms a wide range of heritage for present and future generations to take part in, learn from and enjoy. From museums, parks and historic places to archaeology, natural environment and cultural traditions, we invest in every part of our diverse heritage. HLF has supported more than 30,000 projects allocating £4.7billion across the UK.

  • The Royal Borough of Greenwich was granted Royal status on 3 February 2102. Councillor Chris Roberts, the Leader of the Royal Borough of Greenwich, is a Trustee of the Cutty Sark Trust. The Royal Borough provided financial support to ensure the restoration and conservation works on the Cutty Sark could be undertaken. It is responsible for Cutty Sark Gardens, the area in which the ship is located, which has also recently benefited from a major restoration project. 

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