Cutty Sark, five years since reopening

Cutty Sark opened to the public on 26 April 2012 and has welcomed more than 1.3million visitors on board since.

Following an extensive £50m conservation project from 2006-12, Cutty Sark was proud to welcome on board HM Queen Elizabeth II and HRH The Duke of Edinburgh on 25 April 2012 for her official re-opening. Having originally opened Cutty Sark to the public 55 years ago in 1957, it was fitting that Her Majesty once again opened the ship for visitors.

Here are some of the highlights of the last five years:

Cutty Sark Theatre

January 2014 saw the launch of the remarkable Michael Edwards Studio Theatre, situated in the lower hold of Cutty Sark, where precious cargoes of tea and wool were stacked over a century ago. In the evening, the central section can now be transformed into an eclectic performing arts space, which has seen the likes of Alan Davies, Richard Herring, Dame Diana Rigg, Ross Noble and Shappi Khorsandi take the stage. Three years later, the ship hosts three seasons of events per year in the Michael Edwards Studio Theatre, plus a wide range of opera, concerts and dance events in the Sammy Ofer Gallery underneath the ship’s hull.

Michael Edwards Studio Theatre

Celebrating 60 years in Greenwich

On 10 December 2014, exactly 60 years after Cutty Sark arrived in her new permanent dry berth in Greenwich, the ship hosted a special tea party with Sadia's Tea Party, and invited visitors to come along and share their memories of the ship. Afternoon tea, parlour games and lively conversation were on offer as we talked about what Cutty Sark means to Greenwich and why the ship is worth preserving. Guest shared memories of seeing the dry dock being built, the fire – and the relief of the ship being saved! -, the restoration, family visits to the ship and much more – all captured on film. If you’d like to see more, please visit the Cutty Sark Youtube page and look for ‘Tea and Memories: celebrating 60 years in Greenwich’.

One millionth visitor

Ahead of predictions, Cutty Sark welcomed its one millionth visitor since reopening on board on 19 August 2015, only three years after the ship’s major revamp. Sir Robert Knox-Johnston presented Kathleen and Greg Thompson from Essex, visiting that day with their three grandchildren, with presents including the newly published book ‘Cutty Sark’ by Eric Kentley.

Toddler Time sessions at the ship

Wednesday mornings during term-time are dedicated to Toddler Time, where our youngest visitors can enjoy ship-themed stories, singing, arts and crafts followed by free play in the dry berth of the ship. Cutty Sark staff write their own stories inspired by the ship and the people and cargoes she carried.  Over 2,000 young visitors and their carers have participated in sessions since they first began in January 2015 and with more stories being added to our repertoire, Wednesday mornings are fast becoming one of the busiest times on board the ship.


Toddler time on board Cutty Sark

Access programming

Cutty Sark first began hosting British Sign Language tours aboard the ship in 2014.  These are researched, written and led by deaf historian John Wilson, with support from a BSL interpreter for hearing companions.  The tours have proved to be a huge success, leading to the introduction of our SeaSigns event for deaf and hearing families. SeaSigns enables younger visitors or their carers, who may be in need of BSL support, to participate in arts and crafts, storytelling and actor interpretation sessions at the ship. 

Cutty Sark also offers quarterly audio-described tours.  Visitors take in a vast array of tactile models, drawings and authentic features while being expertly guided around the ship and learning all about her history from our staff. These tours have been designed in consultation with VocalEyes, an organisation which enables visually impaired people to enjoy and participate in the arts and heritage.

Audio-described tour


Cutty Sark has hosted over 200 events since it reopened in 2012. Recent landmark events include a celebratory display of mast manning for the christening of Viking Sea, the largest ship ever launched in London and most recently the Official Launch of the Barclays ATP World Tour Finals where Scottish born Andy Murray was presented with a trophy for his Emirates ATP number 1 ranking.

Having received its wedding licence in the summer of 2015, a number of beautiful celebrations have taken place including a New Year’s wedding ceremony and international themed wedding reception. 2017 has seen the ship grow in popularity as a unique and daring wedding location.

Cutty Sark

150th anniversary of the ship’s launch

While Cutty Sark has seen plenty of changes since 2012, we are also looking forward to some significant milestones – none more significant than 2019, when Cutty Sark will celebrate her 150th anniversary. Having been designed to last only 30 years, 2019 will be a year of particular importance for Cutty Sark, and one which Royal Museums Greenwich will be making the most of. Make sure you look out over the next eighteen months for news of special events, family programmes and performances throughout 2019 which will draw on Cutty Sark’s rich history. There will be something for everyone!