Crew on Cutty Sark

To get an idea of what life might have been like for the crew of Cutty Sark, come on board and explore her living quarters.


Extensive records give us an idea of who worked on board Cutty Sark. The number of crew on board the ship varied from voyage to voyage, but usually numbered around 26. This generally comprised the following crew members:

Master: In ultimate command of the vessel, the ship’s Master was responsible for its safe and efficient operation, including cargo operations, navigation and crew management.

1st Mate: One of the officers on board, the 1st Mate was second in command to the ship’s Master.

2nd Mate: The 2nd Mate was third in command to the ship’s Master.

Steward: The Steward looked after the needs of the Officers and his duties might include serving meals and maintaining the officers’ quarters.

Boatswain (also abbreviated to Bos’un): One of the Petty Officers on board, the Boatswain was responsible for the maintenance of the ship and its equipment, and organised the crew on board.

Cook: Another of the Petty Officers, the Cook provided meals for the entire crew, working in the Galley in the forward deckhouse.

Carpenter: Also a Petty Officer, the Carpenter had a narrow workshop in the forward deckhouse to enable him to make repairs to the ship while at sea.

Sailmaker: The last of the Petty Officers, a Sailmaker was necessary on board during voyages to make repairs to sails which had sustained damage.

Apprentices: Apprentices were boys or young adults training for a career in the Merchant Navy, sometimes as young as 14 years of age.

ABs (Able Seaman): Competent crewmembers able to perform the usual duties on board a ship, including working at the helm and hoisting the sails.

Ordinary Seaman: A crewmember subordinate to the Able Seaman, the Ordinary Seaman carried out the menial but essential duties on board, for example cleaning and maintaining the vessel.

Levels of accommodation

Just as there was a hierarchy of command, the level of accommodation varied according to one’s position in the crew.

Liverpool House

The Master’s accommodation was at the stern of the vessel in the Liverpool House. The Master's Saloon was the most luxurious part of the vessel with mahogany panelling, and in the centre a large table enabled him to study charts and maps or entertain guests when in port.

The Liverpool House included a pantry, WCs and quarters for the 1st and 2nd Mates and Steward.

Aft Deckhouse

The Aft Deckhouse offered accommodation for the Petty Officers (Boatswain, Cook, Carpenter and Sailmaker) and Apprentices.

Forward Deckhouse

The Forward Deckhouse was added in 1872 to house the rest of the crew. Prior to this date, they slept in quarters below the main deck, in the forward part of the vessel.

Crew lists of Cutty Sark

Crew lists for Cutty Sark are all included in the book by S.F. Bailey, The Crews Of Cutty Sark, London 1989. This is a comprehensive list of all known crewmembers while sailing under the British flag (1870–95). This book was compiled using the original crew lists held in the archives of the National Maritime Museum.

Find out more about researching our crew lists.