Marketing Volunteer Gina got the unique opportunity to visit Cutty Sark’s workshop with Senior Shipkeeping Technician Piran Harte and his team, and get a behind the scenes look into the ongoing conservation work. They were working on one of the ship’s chicken coops when she visited, and here’s what she discovered.

“Five amazing runners ran for Cutty Sark in the London Marathon 2016 to help raise money for the ongoing conservation of the ship, and the restoration of the chicken coops in particular. When I visited the workshop, the team was working on the Port Side chicken coop, which can usually be found on the Main Deck. Piran explained the process of the restoration, including stripping the weathered paint, repairing the damage to the legs, repainting the wood to keep it weather tight and replacing the top canvas.

Chicken coop in Cutty Sark's workshop

‘All in all, the work takes about a week,’ he told me, ‘however with so many other tasks to do it can often take a lot longer as the team cannot spend all their time in the workshop’. The chicken coops are constantly exposed to the weather, and visitors like to sit on them which can cause damage to the legs and the canvas, so it is important to maintain them every three to four years.   

When you visit the ship you will find two chicken coops near the Captain’s cabin at the stern of the ship, and two pig pens at the bow end. These animals were kept on board as an alternative way of supplying food for the crew. However, food wasn’t the only reason there were animals on board Cutty Sark. The most famous Captain, Richard Woodget, Master from 1885 to 1895, was a keen lover of animals, and he kept his prize winning pet Collies on board, as well as two monkeys which lived up on the Main Deck.

The two chicken coops are exactly the same in size and colour, but Piran told me a little secret. In order to give each chicken coop an identity, one has its legs painted black and the other white. So next time you are on the Main Deck make sure to check this out.”

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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.