While at sea, Cutty Sark’s crew needed to constantly maintain and repair the ship to ensure it stayed safe and afloat.

Even though it no longer sails, ongoing care is still needed to make sure the 155-year-old ship survives for us all to enjoy.

Every day, our team of shipkeepers chip, paint, polish and repair all parts of the ship. They also carefully monitor its condition, looking for any changes. If you've visited before, you may well have spotted them in action.

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What do Cutty Sark's shipkeepers do?

Cutty Sark is made from many different materials – such as teak wood, rock elm wood, iron and brass – which all need different methods of care. In part this care is needed to make the ship look good, but more importantly it ensures that serious damage is avoided or repaired.

Much of the ship’s maintenance is planned on a yearly cycle. Cutty Sark is exposed to the elements which affects its components differently depending on the material. For example, the wood can shrink or expand due to external temperature changes. This can mean cracks or even leaks.

Some jobs – such as polishing the brassworks – start again almost as soon as they have finished. Other jobs happen less frequently and arise from a pressing need.

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What did the conservation project involve?

The poop deck (pictured) – the raised area at the stern, or back, of the ship – has been laid with new planks to ensure everything below it remains dry.

Between 2023 and 2024, our team of shipkeepers, working with specialists TS Rigging, have replaced the current deck using traditional techniques – a process that has taken six months.

The new planks are made from ‘iroko’, a West African tropical hardwood that has similar properties to the original teak. Teak is a high quality and durable wood, but it is now very difficult to ethically and sustainably source.

Fibres of hemp rope, known as oakum, were driven into the gaps between planks using caulking tools. The video below shows this work in action, in a clip taken from 1954 when Cutty Sark first arrived in Greenwich.

Pitch, a tar-like substance made from bituminous materials, was used to seal the joins.

"We’re trying to keep the ship alive, and it’s fulfilling to think that Cutty Sark will last longer because of this project," explains project manager Chris Wood.

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Cutty Sark virtual tour

Explore Cutty Sark’s poop deck like never before with our virtual 3D experience, created in partnership with cultural travel app, Smartify.

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What’s On

Cutty Sark Rig Climb
Experiences

Cutty Sark Rig Climb

Experience life at sea and climb the rigging of one of London's true icons
Weekends 10am-5pm | Friday-Sunday during school holidays
Adult: £55 | Child (10-17): £45 | Under 25/Student: £49
Cutty Sark
Meet the characters of Cutty Sark
Family fun

Meet the characters of Cutty Sark

Meet colourful characters from Cutty Sark’s past and hear astonishing stories about life at sea in the age of sail
Weekends and Fri-Mon in school holidays | 11am, 12pm, 2pm, 3pm
Included with entry to Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark
Members' Summer Party
Events and festivals | Member events

Members' Summer Party

Celebrate the summer with Royal Museum Greenwich's annual Members' party
Tuesday 25 June 2024 | 6.30pm - 8.30pm
Free for Members – booking required
Cutty Sark
Ship Mates
Family fun

Ship Mates

Hop aboard Cutty Sark for sensory sessions for under 5s!
Term-time Wednesdays | 10.30am, 12.00pm & 1.30pm
£5 per child, accompanying adults free
Cutty Sark
RNLI weekend at Cutty Sark
Events and festivals

RNLI weekend at Cutty Sark

Join us on board Cutty Sark for talks and demonstrations celebrating 200 years of the RNLI and their essential lifesaving work
Saturday 6 July - Sunday 7 July 2024 | 11am - 4pm
Included with entry to the ship
Cutty Sark
Sea shanty singers
Family fun

Sea shanty singers

Join our resident sea shanty groups at Cutty Sark on the first weekend of every month as they sing traditional maritime songs
First weekend of every month
Included with entry to Cutty Sark: £20 Adult | £10 Child
Cutty Sark
Shipkeeping in action
Talks and tours

Shipkeeping in action

This is your chance to meet the team who care for and conserve Cutty Sark
Monthly | See page for details
Free for Cutty Sark ticket holders
Cutty Sark
BSL Tour: Cutty Sark
Talks and tours | BSL tours

BSL Tour: Cutty Sark

Join guide John Wilson for a BSL tour of Cutty Sark and discover what life was like aboard the iconic sailing ship
Friday 12 July 2024 | 2.15pm-3.15pm
Adult: £20 | Child: £10 | Student: £14
Cutty Sark
The Busy Narrow Sea
Talks and tours | Member events

The Busy Narrow Sea

Discover the social history of the English Channel with journalist and historian Robin Laurance
Thursday 25 July 2024 | 7.30pm-8.30pm
Free | Members only
Cutty Sark
Cutty Sark Comedy
Events and festivals | Museum Lates

Cutty Sark Comedy

Join us in the Lower Hold of the famous tea clipper for a fantastic evening of stand-up comedy
Sunday 28 July 2024 | 6.30pm-8.30pm (Doors open at 6pm)
Adult: £18.00 | Members: £16.00
Cutty Sark
Pirate Academy with Justin Somper
Family fun | Member events

Pirate Academy with Justin Somper

Join the award-winning author for a swashbuckling family adventure
Friday 9 August 2024 | 2pm
Free for Members – booking required
Cutty Sark
Members' Talk: The Rise and Fall of the Pirates with Richard Blakemore
Talks and tours | Member events

Members' Talk: The Rise and Fall of the Pirates with Richard Blakemore

The historian and author reveals some of the lesser-told tales of those who sailed and plundered on the high seas
Wednesday 14 August 2024 | 7.30pm - 8.30pm
Free for Members – booking required
Cutty Sark
Attention All Shipping
Events and festivals | Museum Lates

Attention All Shipping

To mark Cutty Sark’s 155th birthday, join us on board to watch Charlie Connelly's one-man show based on his bestselling book 'Attention All Shipping: A Journey Round The Shipping Forecast'
Friday 22 November 2024 | 7-9pm
Adult: £20 | Member: £18
Cutty Sark