22 May 2007

Cutty Sark burnt

Cutty Sark? ZUI this from The Independent:
There is no ship anywhere like the Cutty Sark. She is the last, beautiful remaining product of the golden age of sailing ships, when Britain had world's greatest navy and had perfected the technology to make some of the most elegant cargo ships in history.

Since she has been dry-docked at Greenwich, 15 million people have paid to look inside her, and up to seven million people a year pass through Greenwich gardens to see her from the outside.


Her global fame is not just a reminder of the great age of sail, but of Britain's history as an island nation whose success depended on maritime prowess.

She is the only tea clipper still in existence, built in 1869 at the height of British imperial grandeur, named after a character in a Robert Burns' poem and designed to win the annual - and lucrative - race across the globe from China to London to bring the first tea of the year.

But even in her own day, in late Victorian times, she was a very famous ship. Everybody who was interested in sailing ships knew about her and her history. She had several good runs to China and back, but what really made her famous was when she was used as a wool clipper between Australia and the UK.

Cutty Sark, which has been a museum ship in Greenwich, London, for the past several decades, was severely damaged by fire yesterday. ZUI this early report from ABC Online:
The Cutty Sark, the world's last remaining tea clipper and one of London's tourist attractions, has been damaged by fire.

The boat-museum, under reconstruction and due to reopen in 2009, was on fire at 5:30 am (local time) and firefighters were concerned gas canisters on board for repair work could explode.

Sky News showed firefighters saying the ship was "100 per cent on fire" and played amateur footage of massive flames climbing towards the sky.

Police evacuated nearby buildings and closed off the area.

"There is substantial damage," a London Fire Brigade spokesman said.

"We've got eight fire engines and 40 firefighters there."

By 7am local time the blaze had been brought under control.

And it may have been arson. From the Beeb:
A fire which swept through the famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark may have been started deliberately, police say.
The vessel, which was undergoing a £25m restoration, is kept in a dry dock at Greenwich in south-east London.

Police are analysing CCTV images which are thought to show people in the area shortly before the fire started.

A Cutty Sark Trust spokesman said much of the ship had been removed for restoration and the damage could have been worse.

Half the planking and the masts had been taken away as part of the project.

H/T to LawDog.

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