Cutty Sark was constructed in 1869 in Dumbarton, Scotland, and was designed to last just 30 years. Now heading towards her 150th year, Cutty Sark is still standing strong in the heart of Greenwich, with visitors from all over the world taking in the scent of the tea she once carried, and experiencing what life on board was like. 

So what is the secret behind Cutty Sark looking so beautiful 150 years on? I met with Senior Ship Technician Piran Harte, who told me that the weather is Cutty Sark’s biggest threat. Ongoing maintenance, both on board and in the workshop is vital to keep her preserved for years to come.  To find out more I got the exciting opportunity to take a sneaky peak into the workshop, where Piran explained what sort of work he does to keep Cutty Sark looking so spectacular.

The workshop in Greenwich is mainly used by Piran and the team during the winter months when the weather prevents a lot of the work on the Main Deck. Apart from Piran [pictured left], the team consists of two full-time Ship Technicians Simon Thompson [pictured middle] and William Lawlor, contracted Rigger Carol Anderson [pictured right], and four volunteers. Between them, they tackle the ongoing maintenance of the ship. 

Cutty Sark's ship keeping team at the workshop

Piran explained that the workshop allows him and the team to take items such as fire buckets, wooden blocks and capstan bars off of the ship, and back to the workshop to receive thorough maintenance. By doing this during the winter months, visitors to the ship are less likely to be disturbed by the work. Plus, using the workshop allows the team to access tools and machinery they can’t use on board. It is also a place where parts of the ship can be fully dismantled, reconstructed and cannot be weathered, allowing multiple coats of paint, oil or varnish to be applied.

When I visited the workshop I had the joy of meeting Simon and Carol, who were busying working away on wooden blocks and wedges from the hatch on the Main Deck. As I began to grab some great images, Piran explained the process and the importance of each activity taking place in the workshop. It was evident that without Piran and the team Cutty Sark wouldn’t be looking as good as new at nearly 150 years old.

Find out more about the great work of our Ship Keeping team, and Cutty Sark’s workshop in next week’s blog. 

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This blog was written by Cutty Sark Marketing Volunteer Gina Lampen:

"Hello, 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."