The Cutty Sark celebrates the 150th anniversary of its Dumbarton launch

It’s the 150th anniversary of the launch of Cutty Sark, the iconic tea clipper built here in Dumbarton at the Sandpoint confluence of the rivers Clyde and Leven.

By Rory Murphy

The world’s only surviving tea-clipper; the Dumbarton-built Cutty Sark celebrates turning 150 this year.

The iconic, historic sailing ship and fastest of its time is now an award-winning visitor attraction in Greenwich, London.

The 1st February this year marked the start of a year-long programme of events and ongoing celebrations are be taking place at the Cutty Sark.

These started from marking the anniversary of the signing of the contact to commence the build on 1st Feb to its launch on 22 November 1869 to the ship’s first official voyage on 16 February 1870.

On its first voyage, Cutty Sark carried ‘large amounts of wine, spirits and beer’, and came back from Shanghai loaded with 1.3 million pounds of tea.

The Cutty Sark is a survivor and has a rich history, full of stories and ‘near misses’ from the beginning of its build in Dumbarton at Sandpoint,l across the river from the Rock, to Greenwich today.

Cutty Sark survived storms which ripped its rudder off on two occasions, a dis-masting in the First World War and a terrible fire in 2007.

In the year before the fire, the majority of Cutty Sark’s original fabric had been removed.

This meant that, while devastating, the fire was nowhere near as destructive as it could have been. Over 90% of the ship’s hull structure that you see today is original to 1869.

To celebrate 150 years of the Cutty Sark, there were a number of special events throughout the year including concerts, theatre and poetry performances relating to her impressive career, her Victorian maritime heritage and historic connections to the rest of the world.

The Cutty Sark is located in Cutty Sark gardens; a short walk away from Cutty Sark DLR and within walking distance of Royal Museums Greenwich’s other sites, the National Maritime Museum, the Queen’s House and Royal Observatory Greenwich.

Event highlights include:

  • Celebrate Cutty Sark’s 150th anniversary with a special concert by the BBC Singers; Enjoy Family Friendly events on board Cutty Sark  with incredible storytelling for all the family 


Cutty Sark Birthday Weekend

Join the celebrations of the Cutty Sark’s 150th anniversary of her launch

Dates:                 23rd and 24th November

Venue:           Sammy Ofer Gallery, Cutty Sark

Times:                10.00-17.00

Admission:    £13.50 Concessions, members and visitors with disabilities. Price includes admission to the ship. Carers enter free. Local residents enter free (proof of address needed)

Tom Allen & Friends

Live comedy at the Cutty Sark

Dates:                 Monthly dates available

Venue:           Sammy Ofer Gallery, Cutty Sark

Times:                Doors open at 18.15, start time at 19.15

Admission:    £17.50



Toddler Time

Cutty Sark is dedicating term-time Wednesday mornings to our youngest visitors. Bring your little sailors along for songs, stories and playtime on board.

Dates:                 Wednesdays during term time

Venue:           Sammy Ofer Gallery, Cutty Sark

Times:                10.00-11.30 | 13.20-14.50

Admission:    Under 4s go free and £5 Toddler Time ticket for one accompanying adult, includes admission to the ship

Age:                Suitable for ages 4 and under


Cutty Sark Characters

Come aboard to hear Cutty Sark’s incredible stories brought to life by characters from the ship’s past. Meet Captain Woodget, the ship’s most daring master; Jock Willis, the man who built Cutty Sark; Nannie, the ship’s figurehead; or the ship’s cook, James Robson, who all have an extraordinary story to tell.

Dates:             Daily

Venue:               Sammy Ofer Gallery and Main Deck, Cutty Sark

Times:            11.00 | 12.00 | 13.00 | 14.30

Times:            Throughout the day

Admission:     Included in Cutty Sark admission price

Age:                     Suitable for ages 3+

Cutty Sark reopened to the public in April 2012, marking a new chapter in the extraordinary life of the last surviving tea clipper and one of the world’s most famous ships.

Visitors to Cutty Sark can venture aboard and beneath the beautiful three-masted clipper: walk along the decks in the footsteps of the merchant seamen who sailed her over a century ago; explore the hold where precious cargo was stored on epic voyages; and even walk underneath the 963-tonne ship in the dry berth below to view the elegant lines of her hull.  

Cutty Sark, National Maritime Museum, Royal Observatory Greenwich and Queen’s House operate under the banner of Royal Museums Greenwich. 

Cutty Sark is open 10.00 – 17.00, Monday – Sunday (subject to change please see website for details

Royal Museums Greenwich members receive free entry to Cutty Sark among their membership benefits.  Admission to Cutty Sark is by ticket, available in advance online, by telephone or in person on the day.  Due to high demand tickets may be unavailable on the day to those who have not purchased their ticket in advance.  Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling the bookings line on 020 8312 6608.

Royal Museums Greenwich offers free admission to carers accompanying visitors with disabilities. 

Cutty Sark is located a short walk from the Cutty Sark DLR, and Maze Hill and Greenwich train stations. The closest tube stations are North Greenwich (to change to local buses) and Canary Wharf (to change to DLR), both on the Jubilee line.

For details on National Maritime Museum and Royal Observatory Greenwich opening hours and admission visit the website

Leave a Reply