Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark is a British clipper ship. In 1869, in was built on the River Leven, in Scotland as part of the Jock Willis Shipping Line. She was an extremely fast tea clipper, and also one of the last to be built. This was due to the rise of steamships, which occupied the routes and thus rendered clippers pretty much obsolete. Another key factor was the massive improvement in terms of fuel efficiency in steamships, as well as the opening of the Suez Canal. This provided ships with a more direct route to China and other parts of Asia, and so Cutty Sark spent just a few years on the tea trade before switching over to the wool trade from Australia, whereby she held a record time of Britain for ten years.

As technology surrounding steamships continued to evolve, their influence over the global maritime industry kept growing. This meant that they also began to dominate the longer sailing routes to Australia, and so Cutty Sark was sold to Ferreira and Co. in 1895. The Portuguese company went on to rename the ship as Ferreira, and she continued to serve as a cargo ship until 1922.

At this point, she was purchased by a retired sea captain named Wilfred Dowman, and he used Cutty Sark as a training ship which sailed out of Cornwall. When Dowman died, Cutty Sark was transferred over to the Thames Nautical Training College. This happened in 1938, and she became an auxiliary cadet training ship alongside HMS Worcester. Sixteen years later, in 1954, Cutty Sark was no longer viable to be used as a training ship and so she was moved to a permanent dry dock at Greenwich.

Today, she is listed by National Historical Ships as part of the National Historic Fleet. Cutty Sark is one of only three remaining original composite construction clippers from the 19th Century. A composite construction ship is one with a wooden hull on an iron frame.

Cutty Sark is currently available for visit in Greenwich, and makes for a fantastic place for enthusiasts.

This recent restoration project was completed for a private client, and so there isn’t much to be said.

He was incredibly happy with the final result, after collecting it in person and reviewing the work done by our restorer.

A number of issues needed to be addressed with this model:

  • The top spar on the forward mast was broken
  • The rigging was loose and tangled in places
  • Copper plates were loose and needed re-gluing, especially on the port side
  • The ship required a completely new base, but this time required supporting rods attached
  • The ship was incredibly dusty, and so it required a deep clean

From the start, costs and schedules needed to be agreed upon, as with any project. Once this had been sorted, the physical problems could be looked into.

One of the first problems that was addressed was the broken spar. This was entangled with rigging, and sat fairly central in regards to the rest of the ship model. Therefore, it was imperative that this key structure was repaired as soon as possible.

After this had been fixed, the rigging itself was effectively ‘reset.’ Premier Ship Models’ restorer took down the rigging, gave it all a deep clean, and then set it back in place.

Several copper plates were missing, and so our restorer then focused on reglueing these where requested. A discussion about cleaning them did take place, but this would likely have led to darkening and even potential staining. Therefore, this was something that didn’t happen.

Following on from this, our restorer fitted the model with an entirely new base. One that was far more elegant, and also had a wall-mounted stand. This one also had attaching support rods, for further stability. This guaranteed that the model would be more resistant to damage, and the elevation would also make it easier to clean.

The final stage was deep cleaning, as the entire model was coated in a thick layer of dust. Of course, certain components are fairly delicate; therefore, Premier Ship Models’ restorer needed to be incredibly precise and careful. This was done with small paint brushes, and even a little vacuum cleaner which is able to reach tiny gaps and crevices.

Overall, this fantastic Cutty Sark model is a terrific tribute to the real-life counterpart. The restoration process went very well, and the customer was left extremely satisfied with the work that had been carried out.

Each repair was successful, and cleaning the model brought back its liveliness and colour. It once again serves as a brilliant reproduction of the ever-famous Cutty Sark.

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