Sad news of the Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark in dry dock, London

An old photo of Cutty Sark in dry dock

Cutty Sark figurehead Cutty Sark, Foudroyandt and seaplane in Falmouth Harbour

Cutty Sark’s famous figurehead; Cutty Sark, Foudroyandt and seaplane in Falmouth Harbour (all images copyright RCPS)

I had other, happier things to write about tonight, but like many people who know London well there’s only one story today – the wrecking by fire of the last of the extreme clipper ships, Cutty Sark. The news reports say that the fire may have been deliberate – if so, I can only imagine that it must have been an act of madness, for the Cutty Sark has been a beloved landmark, and represents nothing that could cause any offence. For anyone who does not know the story, I have pasted the content of the NMMC’s press release on the subject below; the photos above come from the same source.

The full story of the Cutty Sark and her restoration is here:

I’ve been a fan of the Cutty Sark since I was a child in London, and regular readers will know that I posted something that touched on her only a few days ago:
Superstitions at sea


Jonathan Griffin, Director of the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, described this morning’s fire on the Cutty Sark as “tragic.”

He continues: “The news of the damage to the Cutty Sark this morning is obviously tragic. She is an iconic symbol of our great maritime trading past.

From what we hear, it seems that a large part of the famous ship has been destroyed by fire although we hear encouraging news that around 50% of the fabric was off site at the time.

The Cutty Sark was moored in Falmouth between 1922 and 1938 and was restored here by Captain Dowman, becoming a well-known local landmark. She then became a sail-training ship, coming and going from the port, until in 1954 she made her last voyage to dry dock in Greenwich.

The condition of her ironwork and woodwork had been deteriorating in recent years and a major conservation programme was under way. It was for this reason that much of the fabric was off site. We will have to wait until a full assessment has been done by the conservators to work out what happens next.

She has survived before and we must hope that she will survive again to bring pleasure to future generations. She is 138 years old: not bad for a ship which was originally expected to last for only 30 years.

2 thoughts on “Sad news of the Cutty Sark”

  1. If it was arson , keel hauling would be a good start for the SOB that torched her!

    What a loss.

  2. Well yes – unless it was madness rather than villainy, but even then it seems fair to ask questions about what level of security would have been appropriate.

    The evening newspapers last night were saying that there's a plan to get up an appeal to have her repaired. Naturally, will do what it can to lend support.


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