The Cutty Sark was made to fly over the water, to beat out all competition at the time in carrying tea from the Orient to the West. With its 34 sails and the guardian figurehead on its bow - an homage to the semi-nude witch Nannie, inspired by the work of poet Robert Burns - the mythical English clipper ship, weighing in at over 900 tons, was designed to beat all other ships at the time, carrying precious tea from China to London. Built in Dumbarton in 1869, it set out from London on February 15, 1970, headed for Shanghai loaded with strong drink and manufactured goods, set to return seven months later, packed with tea. However, the Cutty Sark, with its eight trips to China, never really lived up to expectations. It was, not surprisingly, slowed by ill winds and rough seas, but it was really eclipsed by the opening of the Suez Canal and the advent of much faster and reliable steam ships. Cutty Sark gathered its last load of Chinese tea in 1877, which afterwards made way for loads of coal and jute. After being sold to a Portoghese company which renamed it the Ferreira, it was purchased by the English Captain Wilfred Dowman and was later donated, in 1938, to the Incorporated Thames Nautical. Since 1957, it has been on display at the National Maritime Museum of Greenwich, perfectly restored after the fire which, in 2007, seriously damaged three decks.
Samantha De Martin - © 2020 ARTE.it for Bulgari Hotel London