Cutty Sark, 1869


Cutty Sark 1870

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Cutty Sark was built for Jock Willis of Willis & Sons, who wanted the fastest ship to bring home the first of the new season’s tea from China. She was designed by Hercules Linton who is thought to have moulded the bowlines creating the new hull shape that was stronger, could take more sail, and be driven harder than any other. The company went bankrupt before completion so fitting out was completed in 1869 by William Denny & Brothers at the same yard in Dumbarton. She was towed to Greenock for final work on masts and rigging then brought to London to load her first cargo for China in 1870. Her launch coincided with the opening of the Suez Canal and an increase in steam vessel construction whose freight rates for tea were higher than the cutters and insurance premiums lower partly because of their ability to use the Canal. No longer competitive in the tea trade by 1883 she was carrying wool from Australia to England, but that trade, too, was wrestled away by steam so in 1895 she was sold to a Portuguese shipowner and her name changed to Ferriera. She carried many cargos between South America and Europe. By 1922 she was the last clipper operating anywhere when she was spotted in Falmouth harbour by Captain Wilfred Dowman. Two years later Dowman was able to achieve his dream of buying her and it is to him that the rescue of this famous vessel must initially be credited. She can today be seen and boarded at Greenwich in London where she is one of the group of Royal Museums Greenwich.

Additional information

Weight 0.054 kg
Dimensions 69.7 × 47.2 cm