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December 16, 2014

England: London, The Cutty Sark


Cutty Sark as viewed from below

Cutty Sark as viewed from below

The famous clipper ship Cutty Sark lies on the bank of the Thames in Greenwich. She’s been restored and is now open as a museum ship. For the admission price visitors get to explore the ship from top to the bottom. And I do mean bottom. Metal pillars support the massive 212-foot long vessel above an excavated hole. Suspending the ship in this manner enables visitors to walk underneath and get a unique view of a clipper’s metal-clad bottom. Exhibits along the way tell the history of the Cutty Sark and the clipper ships.

Cutty Sark was built in Scotland on the estuary of the River Clyde for the tea trade with China. At the time, a premium was paid in Britain for the first tea of the season. Clipper ships were built for speed to maximize profits. As fast as the clippers were, it still took a long time to get to China and back. A round trip taking booze to China and returning with a more valuable cargo of tea took the best part of a year.

Likely more people know of the Cutty Sark today because it is the name of a popular Scotch whisky. The name and a picture of the clipper ship are on the brand’s whisky bottles. You have to wonder: Would the Cutty Sark have been forgotten if Berry Brothers & Rudd had chosen another name for their Scotch?

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Figureheads on display below the Cutty Sark

Figureheads on display below the Cutty Sark

The Cutty Sark on the glass and in the grass

The Cutty Sark on the glass and in the grass

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