Address: King William Walk, London SE10 9HT


Time: 10.00am to 17.00pm

Time Information:

Phone: +44 (0) 208 858 4422

Entry Price: £13.50 for adult


700m from Greenwich

200m from Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark was a three masted sailing ship launched in Dumbarton, Scotland in 1869, with the name coming from the poem Tam O’Shanter by Scottish poet Robert Burns. In it, one of the witches who are chasing the hero is wearing a child’s sark (undergarment) and as it’s too small for her, it is referred to as ‘cutty’. The figurehead on the ship is the Naughty Witch.

The great sailing ships of the era were extremely fast and called clippers, being used to carry cargo on the trade routes around the world. At the time tea had become the exciting drink of Victorian times and there was a rush every year to get the new crop of tea back from China. These vessels were thus referred to as ‘Tea Clippers’. The nation was enthralled by the race with news of progress relayed by telegraph and newspapers with huge bets taking place. The first vessels back could command the highest tea price.

Shipping magnate Jock Wallis commissioned the ship, but ironically it was towards the end of the clipper era as steamships were beginning to take over. Cutty Sark went on the tea run every year until 1878, on one occasion losing a rudder in a race against her great rival Thermopylae.

After the tea runs, she went on the Australian wool runs, breaking a number of records and experiencing a mutiny in 1880. In 1895 Wallis sold the ship to a Portuguese company who named her Ferreira. In 1922, as the last clipper operating in the world she was sold and named Maria do Amparo.

Shortly afterwards, Englishman Wilfred Dowman bought the famous vessel, restored her name and used her as a training ship. In 1951, when about to be scrapped, the Cutty Sark Society formed led by the Duke of Edinburgh. She was put in dry dock in Greenwich and opened to the public. In 2007, when undergoing conservation work, a fire broke out and swept through the ship. It has since been fully restored, costing almost £50m to do so.

The ship is part of the Royal Museums of Greenwich, gives a marvellous experience and is one of the most famous London landmarks.

Click on the pics below for an enlarged view and use the arrow towards the right edge of each pic to go on to the next.