The world’s only surviving tea-clipper, the Cutty Sark, will celebrate its 150 anniversary this year. The iconic ship, part of Royal Museums Greenwich, was the fastest sailing ship of its time and is now an award-winning visitor attraction.
A year-long programme of events and celebrations at the Cutty Sark will begin on 1 February, which marks 150 years since the signing of the contract to build the ship. Other key dates in the history of the vessel include its launch on 22 November 1869 and its maiden voyage on 16 February 1870, which saw the Cutty Sark carry ‘large amounts of wine, spirits and beer’ to China and returning from Shanghai with 1.3 million pounds of tea.
The Cutty Sark has a rich history full of stories and near misses, including surviving storms that ripped off the rudder on two occasions, a dismasting in the First World War, and a fire in 2007. In the year before the fire, the majority of Cutty Sark’s original fabric had been removed. This meant that, while devastating, the fire was not as destructive as it could have been and over 90% of the ship’s hull structure seen today is original to 1896.
The 150th anniversary celebrations will take place throughout the year and will include concerts, theatre and poetry performances relating to the Cutty Sark’s impressive career, her Victorian maritime heritage and historic connections to the rest of the world.
Located in Cutty Sark Gardens, the attraction is a short walk from Cutty Sark DLR and within walking distance of Royal Museum Greenwich’s other sites: the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House, and Royal Observatory Greenwich.