Cutty Sark unveils her new look

By Louisa Emery on April 24, 2012 5:51 PM |

cuttysarknew1.JPGAfter almost six years under wraps, a devastating fire and a £50million pound restoration project, Cutty Sark has emerged fit for a Queen.

Tomorrow morning the Queen will officially reopen the historic clipper with the duke of Edinburgh who has been president of the Cutty Sark Trust since 1951.

Cutty Sark Trust director Richard Doughty has seen the project through from start to finish.

He said: "When the fire officer called and told me she was alight from stem to stern I feared the worst but I kept the faith. The ship is a real survivor and here she is now looking absolutely spectacular.

"Very early on when we were Brain storming the idea of raising the ship came up and my initial reaction was that it was not appropriate for a historic vessel but when we realised what it would mean for her longevity it became the central plank for out whole philosophy and it has been at the heart of what we wanted to do for a decade.

"Ships are not meant to sit on keel blocks so I think it will set a whole new trend for historic ships."

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Cutty Sark now sits 12 feet above her dry dock with her hull incased in a mixture of copper, zinc and iron as it originally would have been.

Richard said: "Without raising her we would have lost the most significant thing about the Cutty Sark, what made it a legend and what allowed it to set work records and capture the publics imagination - the unique hull. We've been able to achieve our vision, raise the ship and give her a future."

Inside differs dramatically from how it looked when last open to the public in 2006.
A series of interactive displays have been introduced and visitors can watch films, view original artifacts and walk around the hull.

Curatorial consultant Eric Kentley said: "One difficulty was knowing how much information to give people. The old scheme had a series of graphic panels but we are hoping now people will read the bits and pieces and put together their own story rather than a linear one.

"The figure heads have been moved from the hold. A lot of people came away believing her cargo was figureheads."

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Cutty Sark has lasted four and a half times longer than expected and nearly 90 per cent of her hull fabric remains intact.

Eric said: "Everything you see painted white is the original fabric, everything grey is new. Most of the planks survived the fire, many were charred but relatively few were lost.

"The work cost in the region of £50million but to put it in context, the new Tate extension cost £20million. The project proved far more complicated than anyone ever imagined but there is only one Cutty Sark and only one tea clipper left in the world. She's priceless."

Cutty Sark opens to the public on Thursday. Go to rmg.co.uk for more details.