Cutty Sark is the worlds’ only surviving extreme clipper, due to celebrate 150 years in 2019. Launched on 22 November 1869 in Dumbarton, Scotland, it embarked on its maiden voyage from London to Shanghai on 16 February 1870. On its first voyage, Cutty Sark carried‘large amounts of wine, spirits and beer’, and came back from Shanghai loaded with 1.3 million pounds of tea. Cutty Sark was built to last for just thirty years but served as a working ship for fifty-two years, a training ship for twenty-two years and has been open to visitors in Maritime Greenwich for sixty years.
Campbell Smith were commissioned to undertake a condition survey of all ‘gingerbread’ carvings. Following an assessment of need, extensive repairs to the carvings and backboards from both the bow and stern of the ship were carried out. The aim was to retain as much original timber as possible, whilst ensuring that all joints were stable and that missing and rotten elements were replaced using appropriate, durable materials.
The Star of India, which is the focal point of the stern of the ship, was completely rotten. Replacement was the only option. A new design for the emblem, was created using archival resources, working closely with the National Maritime Museum, to ensure the design was as close to that of the 1870 piece as possible.