Cutty Sark Ship's bell

Essential information

Opening times: 
10.00–17.00 daily
Admission: 
Ticketed
Location: 
Cutty Sark, Level 2: Main Deck
Free to members

Cutty Sark sailed with two bells - a larger bell, on the monkey foc's'le (the raised deck at the bow) and a smaller bell at the rear, located on the poop deck (the raised deck on the stern). 

Included with entry ticket to Cutty Sark.

  • Visit the bells, used on the ship to divide up watches or call hands on deck. The original bell, dating back to 1869 is in our collection. The other bell is on the monkey foc’s’le.
  • Learn about the types of crew who were on watches, or when the bell was used in emergencies.

What were the bells used for? 

Cutty Sark sailed with two bells - a larger bell, on the monkey foc's'le (the raised deck at the bow) and a smaller bell on the poop deck at the rear. 

The bell was a vital part of life on board Cutty Sark. Sailors’ were divided into two ‘watches’ – ‘port’ and ‘starboard’ watch. They would then alternate their times of duty, so there would always be one watch on deck. 

Each half hour of a watch was marked by one stroke and the watch changed, or ended, on 8 strikes of the bell. The bell was also used to sound the alarm, for example if the ship encountered fog or if a man was washed overboard. 

In stormy weather, all hands would be required on deck and the bell roused everyone from their beds to assist. This was also the case if there was a man overboard.