Cutty Sark

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Cutty Sark, three-masted British clipper ship, launched 1869 from Dumbarton, Scotland. The last tea clipper to be built (and the only to survive), she set out on her maiden voyage from London to Shanghai in Feb., 1870. Later (1883–95) she plied the British-Australian wool trade. Sold (1895) to a Portuguese firm, she carried cargo until 1917, when she was re-rigged as a barquentine. In 1922 she was bought and restored to roughly her original appearance, and was used as a cadet training ship until 1938. Acquired by the Cutty Sark Society in 1953 and restored, the ship became (1957) a maritime museum at Greenwich, SE London. A new restoration begun in 2006 was set back by a fire (2007) that badly damaged the ship.

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Cutty Sark. The last and most famous full-rigged tea clipper, launched in 1869 from Dumbarton (the figurehead's ‘cutty sark’=short chemise). Steamers using the recently opened Suez canal proved too competitive, but she plied the Australian wool trade until 1895. Now restored and rerigged, she lies at Greenwich.

A. S. Hargreaves

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Cutty Sark the only survivor of the British tea clippers, launched in 1869 and now preserved as a museum ship at Greenwich, London.

The name comes from Robert Burns's Tam o' Shanter, a poem about a Scottish farmer chased by a young witch who wore only her ‘cutty sark’ (= short shift).