'Cutty Sark' (1869)
A painting of 'Cutty Sark', the most famous - and the last survivor - of the tea-clippers. These were vessels built to carry the annual tea crop back from India and China in the late 19th century. As the first ship home would be able to command a far higher price for her cargo, speed was essential. This explains their large area of sail and sleek lines. Launched in Dumbarton in 1869, the Cutty Sark was the finest of the tea-clippers, but she carried tea only for eight years. The opening of the Suez Canal, through which sailing ships could not pass, made the tea-clippers redundant. For a decade the Cutty Sark enjoyed new fame and success carrying wool from Australia, but from 1895 until 1922 she suffered neglect under a succession of owners. In 1922 she was bought and preserved by Captain Wilfred Dowman, who had seen her in her heyday. Since 1957 she has been moored in a specially-built dry dock in Greenwich.
- Image reference: BHC3277
- National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London
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