1. ITV Report

Queen to open restored Cutty Sark

The restored Cutty Sark will be officially reopened by the Queen and Duke of Edinburgh on Wednesday Credit: Reuters

After 11 years of restoration and a devastating fire, the Cutty Sark is about to re-open to the public.

The Victorian clipper was the fastest ship in the world when she was built, transporting tea and wool back to Britain from the new world and Far East.

She was commissioned in 1860, constructed in Scotland and named after a character in a Robbie Burn's poem.

She was the Ferrari of her generation and often left more modern steam vessels in her wake.

Her record was just 72 days to return from Australia to London, fully laden with a cargo of wool.

The restored Victorian clipper, the Cutty Sark, is about to reopen to the public Credit: ITV NEWS

She had a crew of 27 working in 4 hours shifts. Many only travelled one way using the ship as means of passage to a new life in the new world.

They slept in extremely cramped conditions and were buffeted by waves and wind.

Although Cutty Sark had a new streamlined hull which cut through waves rather than riding on top of them, the journey was still bumpy and hazardous, with metres and metres of rigging to keep in check.

Conditions were cramped too, both the tween deck and the main hull were rammed full of cargo, there was no room to move below deck.

On the way out she carried pig iron, candles, coal and beer and on the way back, tea in the early years and wool in the later years.

Fully loaded she carried enough tea to make 200 million cups, worth £1 million in today's money, but worth much much more in Victorian times.

Cutty Sark pictured in Falmouth in the 1920s

The Cutty Sark sailed right up until the 1920s.

The Suez Canal led to her demise as steam ships could cut across the Asian continent and beat her home, while she had to go the long way sailing on the trade winds.

She was retired from the seas in 1922 but then became a training ship. In 1951 she arrived in Greenwich.

For the past 11 years, she has been the subject of a huge restoration project costing £50 million.

That project took a major setback in 2007 when a fire ripped through her hull.

A fire burns on board the clipper boat The Cutty Sark on May 21, 2007 Credit: REUTERS/Ali Sadeghi

Despite temperatures in excess of 1000 degrees her metal hull remained intact, but much of the wood had to be replaced.

Thankfully only the hull was in situ, all the rigging, masts and decks had already been stripped for restoration across the country. They were safe.

One of the most stunning features of the restoration is the new dry dock that houses the ship.

Her hull has been clad in golden metal made from copper and iron and lifted entirely off the ground so you can walk underneath the full length of it. This is to show off her streamlined design, which was the cutting edge technology of her day.

The Cutty Sark's golden hull, which is the first view as you enter the new visitor centre Credit: ITV News

Today Queen Elizabeth and the Duke of Edinburgh will officially reopen the vessel. The public will be able to see inside tomorrow.

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