Continuing the series of blogs about Cutty Sark’s workshop, Marketing Volunteer Gina is back with Senior Shipkeeping Technician Piran Harte, and this time she takes a closer look at the work that is being carried out to preserve the ship’s wooden blocks. 

"One of the first things that greeted me when I entered the workshop was a large amount of wooden blocks, hanging from an iron framework. They had recently been worked on by the team and were freshly oiled and now drying. Piran pointed out that contracted rigger Carol happened to be working on another one at the bench.  

Carol, working on one of the wooden blocks

These blocks are a type of pulley which helps to work the ropes and sails of the ship, and can usually be found up in the rigging. There are over 300 blocks in total, in different shapes and sizes. It is important for each one to be systematically removed, as moving of all of them at once could potentially collapse the rig.

Wooden blocks before maintenance work

Piran explained this work needs to be done every four to five years to keep the blocks preserved, but they also receive maintenance up in the rig by the riggers throughout the year, to help prevent the blocks from quickly being weathered. However, major work like the greasing of the components can only be done in the workshop.

Wooden blocks after maintenance work

Once inside the workshop, the blocks are dismantled and the moving components such as the jockey wheels and brackets are greased, before the wood is treated.  Each individual part is labelled, so the block can be reconstructed exactly how it was found."


About Gina

My name is Gina and I have been working at Royal Museums Greenwich for just over a year. I am a Visitor Assistant on board Cutty Sark, which has been an amazing experience as I have met so many people from all over the world, who each have their very own fascinating Cutty Sark memory or story. I am also a Volunteer within Cutty Sark’s Marketing department, and I have been assisting the Marketing Manager on a one day a week basis since October. This role has taught me so much, and has given me the opportunity to work on some amazing projects such as this series of blogs - I hope you enjoy them.