The Royal Opening of CUTTY SARK


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On 25 April, in the pouring rain and along with thousands of other well-wishers, I watched Her Majesty the Queen re-opening Cutty Sark and marvelled at the magnificent restoration project that has been completed on the ship.  

Cover of the programme, 25th June 1957, Ref.PBF2294/2
Cover of the programme, 25th June 1957, Ref.PBF2294/2
As the public return to the Cutty Sark, June’s item of the month recalls the ship’s first royal opening in Greenwich, 55 years ago this month. This is the programme from that day (NMM ref: PBP2294/2).

On 25 June 1957, The Queen, accompanied by His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh, arrived at King William Walk to be received by the Mayor of Greenwich, Councillor Mrs M.L. Wentworth J.P., and other civic officials. They then proceeded to Cutty Sark to be received by the President of the Cutty Sark Society, Mr Walter Barrie; the Chairman, Mr Henry Barraclough; the Secretary, Lt Col H.L. Hollis; the Master, Commodore Sir Roy Gill K.B.E.; and the Chairman of the Greenwich Committee, Sir John Dean.  

At approximately 3.30pm Her Majesty declared Cutty Sark open and heard a vote of thanks from the Chairman of the Cutty Sark Trust. The Queen was then conducted on a tour of the ship and her berth by members of the technical, engineering and exhibition staff who had worked on the restoration of the vessel and the construction of the berth.

At 4.00pm, the Royal Party left Cutty Sarkto take tea in the Royal Naval College’s Queen Elizabeth Ante Room.   

Then, as now, the restoration and opening of Cutty Sark was a massive undertaking involving many dedicated individuals and organisations. Their involvement is acknowledged in the 1957 guide to the Cutty Sark, produced by the Society to document her journey to Greenwich:  Cutty Sark: a brief description of the ship, her voyages, and how she came to Greenwich (Cutty Sark Society, London, 1957) (NMM Ref: PBP2294/1).

This pamphlet details Cutty Sark’sworking life, her time as a training ship, the formation of the Cutty Sark Trust, and the decision to build a permanent berth at Greenwich.    

The Caird Library provides access to many of the books and pamphlets about Cutty Sark that have been printed over the years. One of the most frequently used is S.F. Bailey’s Crews of the Cutty Sark published in 1989. This gives a helpful overview of the crews who have served on board and provides details of individuals and lists of voyages. This is a particularly useful resource for family historians and those chasing up personal links to the history of Cutty Sark

The Caird Library also holds original Cutty Sark crew lists and log books as part of our archive and manuscripts collection. These can be requested for viewing in our reading room and really help to put you in touch with the history of the vessel.  

Finally, the Cutty Sark Trust has an archive of its own. This is the best place to contact if you have detailed enquiries about the famous clipper and her crews. More information can be found on our website:  

Gareth, Reader Services Librarian

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