We love visiting attractions, especially in London which is were we are based. A week ago we visited the Cutty Sark which is located in Greenwich. We have been in Greenwich before and we have passed by this attraction but we have never been inside before. It was a great opportunity to be approached by Royal Museums Greenwich to visit this historic sailing ship for a fun family visit.
Kids love boats, so imagine taking your little ones to explore a massive, historical ship in the middle of London! My girls love exploring new places and boats too so they were super excited to visit Cutty Sark.
CUTTY SARK LOCATION
Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich DLR Station
Our journey was very easy to do. We took the tube to Bank station and changed to the DLR and went to the stop, Cutty Sark for Maritime Greenwich which is just a couple of minutes from the ship. It took us about an hour to get there from home as we had to cross London, from West to East.
You can also get to Greenwich by rail or river, it takes no time at all. They are just 8 minutes from central London by rail, 20 minutes by DLR, or you can make the journey part of the fun and arrive by boat. We might do this next time we visit! 😉
For Greenwich town centre, the nearest stations are:
- Cutty Sark DLR
- Greenwich rail station and Maze Hill rail station
- Greenwich Pier
When we arrived at the Cutty Sark, the weather wasn’t on our side at all. It was raining a lot, hence it looks grey in the photo below. But I must say that the weather didn’t stop us enjoying our time there. Of course, on a glorious sunny day it would have been much better!
ABOUT CUTTY SARK
For those that haven’t heard of Cutty Sark, it is a British clipper ship. Built on the River Clyde in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line, she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest, coming at the end of a long period of design development, which halted as sailing ships gave way to steam propulsion. It was also used as a navy training ship.
Cutty Sark visited nearly every major port in the world during the course of her career and gained fame for her record-breaking passages through the wildest oceans around the globe. Designed to last just 30 years and now nearly five times that age, Cutty Sark has been conserved and lifted by over three metres, allowing you to explore her decks and gaze up underneath her hull in an immersive experience that brings her fascinating history to life.
The reason why it’s so famous is because, since being built in 1869, it’s travelled to destinations all across the world -unscathed through different wars of the last century. It was used for the wool trade, and carried large containers of spirits and wines across the Atlantic to places such as Australia and China. Also the magnitude and size of the ship makes people admire it.
It is split into four levels with interactive displays, exhibits, photos and videos which bring the history to life.
GETTING INSIDE CUTTY SARK – MAIN ENTRANCE
LOWER HOLD – GROUND LEVEL
As soon as you get inside the attraction you arrive at the main entrance where you either collect pre-booked tickets or purchase new ones. It costs £12.15 for an adult ticket and £6.30 for a child ticket. It is open daily from 10 am to 5 pm.
Cutty Sark – The Trader
Here you will learn about the 1870s China tea trade and discover more about the building of the ship and her owner Jock ‘White Hat’ Willis. He was a rich Scottish business man.
Cutty Sark introduced
As soon as you pass the entrance and learn about Jock Willis, you can watch a short film to learn more about the ship and her past. We found out a few interesting facts. See below:
- 10,000 tea chests were loaded onto the ship each voyage
- Cuty Sark’s maiden voyage was in 1870
- Cutty Sark made 8 voyages to China between 1870 and 1878
There was a few activities on this deck, such as using their telephone, play with their tea boxes and before you head up to the next level the girls had to stamp their explorer trail that was given to them at the entrance.
TWEEN DECK – LEVEL 1
We went one level up towards the Tween Deck. This Deck has low ceilings and has no portholes. This space was for storing cargo. Apart from Tea and wool, Cutty Sark also carried coal, corks, clay, candles, pickles, perfumes, pianos, paper, sugar, shoes, shark bones and screws.
Cutty Sark – The Voyager
We learned all about Richard Woodget who was Cutty Sark’s captain from 1885 to 1895. We also found out about the crew, cargo and ports of call.
Cutty Sark was the fastest ship on the wool trade for ten years. In July 1889 the log of the modern passenger steamship SS Britannia recorded that when steaming at 15–16 knots she was overtaken in the night by a sailing ship doing 17 knots, which proved to be Cutty Sark. Captain Woodget’s fastest passage back from Australia was 73 days in 1885.
They had an interactive steering game for the kids to play. They also had moving seats to demonstrate the feeling of being on board the ship when it was out on the high seas. My girls loved this.
Before we left this level the girls again stamped their explorer trail booklets. This was a fun thing to do for the girls.
MAIN DECK – LEVEL 2
We went another level up towards the Main deck. This area has some open parts therefore due to the rain we couldn’t capture too many moments but we did take a few photos inside the Captain’s cabin and crew quarters. It was super interesting too see how they used to live, work, eat and sleep there.
It was amazing to be able to experience what life was really like at sea for the crew and the captain in his saloon. My girls were fascinated here. They marvelled at the towering masts and miles of rigging above them, took the helm at the ship’s wheel, and enjoyed fabulous views of the river from there. It was lovely.
The girls discovered a few sailors secrets here such as:
- It took 8 months to sail from London to China and back again
- Sailors worked in shifts called “watches’
- If you fell asleep on watch, you had to sit on top of the mast
- Ships’ toilets are called “heads’ because originally they were at the front of the ship.
Within the Main Deck you can see the following:
- Ship’s wheel
- Captain’s cabin
- Crew accommodation: you can see where the crew slept, ate and worked
- Cutty Sark – The Sailing Ship: you can explore the captain’s and crew’s quarters on the main deck, marvel at the masts and rigging and stand behind the ship’s wheel
LOWER GROUND – THE DOCK
After exploring the Main Deck, we took the stairs down to the lower ground. We noticed they had lifts there which I thought was very good.
At this level we were able to walk right underneath this huge 963-ton ship which was mesmerising. We loved its gleaming hull. We were able to touch it but we didn’t do that. Hopefully next time.
You can also see at this level, the Sammy Ofer Gallery, the Star of India Memorial, the figureheads and The Even Keel Café. They have the world’s largest collection of merchant-ship figureheads which are wooden carvings of characters that originally decorated the prows of ships.
Cutty Sark’s figurehead is a depiction of Nannie. Nannie can be seen holding out a horse’s tail at the centre of the ship’s figureheads collection under the ship’s hull. The original figurehead carved by Fredrick Hellyer lost its head and an arm in a storm in the late 19th century.
Nannie is wearing a Cutty Sark which means short shirt in Scots. Nannie was a witch from scottish poem ‘Tam o’ Shanter’. Sailors love their figureheads. They were fixed to the front of ships and were believed to be Lucky, guiding them across the water.
CUTTY SARK FOR THE FAMILY
They have lots of activities for the little ones. They are currently running an October Half Term Storytelling Festival. They can brace themselves for tales of adventure, mermaids and storms in a teacup. Perfect for the half term holidays. They can also meet a character from the past, follow a trail or get creative in family workshops over the first weekend of each month and school holidays.
As I mentioned before, there is also a free explorer trail where they have to go around the ship finding clues and collecting stamps. Apparently you can also ask for a backpack with toys and stories. We didn’t know that so better to ask about it when you arrive. We will definitely try to do this next time we visit.
Before you leave the ship, you pass trough the gift shop where you can buy lots of lovely souvenirs. I love going around these shops. You can always find nice gifts for friends and family.
We had a great time at Cutty Sark. As I said the weather was awful but we enjoyed it regardless. The girls loved running around and exploring all the decks. They really liked the interactive activities around the ship as well as following the explorer trail. It is a short visit but you and your family will definitely have a lot of fun and you can then wonder around Greenwich where there are lots of other fantastic places to visit whilst in the area. Kids love boats so it is definitely an attraction to consider visiting during half-term.
For more information about visiting Cutty Sark, please check their website HERE. Have you visited Cutty Sark before? Are you now interested in visiting it again or for the first time?
*Disclosure: We were invited by the Royal Museums Greenwich to visit Cutty Sark for the purpose of this review post. This is a sponsored post and therefore we have been compensated. However, all thoughts and opinions are my own.
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