It was a wet and windswept Sunday morning as our family of four, two adults and two children, arrived at Greenwich Pier to be greeted by the two hundred foot long world famous merchant ship, the Cutty Sark. This magnificently restored vessel seemed to be perched on a criss-crossed glass mount on the pavement, looking rather like it was riding the ocean waves. But thankfully for those of us without sea legs, the fact that the museum ship is on dry land made us feel safe enough to climb aboard for an adventure.
This is a very hands-on interactive experience, and as you freely stroll around, the central story unfolds of the tea clippers’ sole competitive mission of bringing the season’s first precious loads of tea from China back to Victorian London- a journey that took about 120 days.
The children took to the helm of the ship’s wheel, explored the crewmen’s sleeping quarters and kitchens, sat in the Captain’s cabin, and even peered down the toilet pans – which brought on the inevitable giggles. We climbed up onto the poopdeck to meet the ‘Captain’ who chatted away with the children, he answered their questions about hoisting the riggings and climbing the masts without getting dizzy – a daunting prospect when you crick your neck up to admire the sixteen sails towering up to forty metres above you.
While below deck, for adults and children alike, there’s plenty of historical information, videos, documents and original artefacts to bring all the seafaring adventures of the Cutty Sark alive.
There’s a lot more to discover about what happened to the Cutty Sark and how it was rescued and twice restored. For today’s visitors, a trip to the Cutty Sark and its stunning setting on the River Thames provides a real eye opener to merchant shipping of a bygone age and is a testament to Britain’s role as one of the greatest sea faring nations of the 19th century. The Cutty Sark makes for an inspirational family day out that will not disappoint.
Getting there: The Cutty Sark Museum is located in Greenwich, a short walk from the Cutty Sark DLR, local bus stops, nearest stations are Maze Hill and Greenwich.
Entry: Adult: £12.00, Children (15 and under): £6.50 (under-5s FREE), Concessions: £9.50, Family (1 Adult, 2 children): £20.00 Family (2 Adults, 2 children): £29.00
Places to Eat: A wide choice of cafes and restaurants in the area. Alternatively, weather permitting, pack a picnic and relax in Greenwich Park.
Other things to see and do in the area: Greenwich Maritime Museum and Greenwich Observatory and Planetarium.