Special programme telling the dramatic story of the Cutty Sark, the world-famous clipper ship, from her launch in 1869 to the modern-day conservation work to save her.
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Cutty Sark was launched in 1869.
She is the last remaining ship of her type
and so has been preserved for the nation.
This is the end of a chapter. There won't be any more of her kind.
But in the late 1990s, it was discovered that this iconic ship
was in danger of collapse.
A ship is not built to sit in a dry dock, it's built to be in water.
So the weight of the ship was bursting it more and more at the seams.
Nobody wanted a pile of matchwood at the bottom of the dry berth.
And so a revolutionary vision to save this national treasure
for future generations was put into action.
We're going to lift her about three metres from where she currently is.
We can actually sit the Cutty Sark in its own new sea of glass.
Subliminally, we were saying to each other, "They've gone mad!"
I know Eric and I sort of looked at each other
and thought, "This is absolutely crazy!"
It was a project that was going to be incredibly ambitious
but no-one could have predicted what lay ahead.
What's your reaction to hearing that the Cutty Sark's on fire?
It's just unbelievable.
The thought that it had just gone up in smoke, on my watch,
was unbearable, really.
It was very clear that costs were escalating.
We were very concerned about how we could keep the show on the road.
Well, after a year of planning, a year of design,
a year of manufacture, we're now ready to raise the ship
up to its new three metre in-the-air position.
It took over six years to prepare Cutty Sark for her final voyage,
and this is that story.
It's the day before Cutty Sark will be reopened to the public
by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh.
And for Richard Doughty,
Director of the Cutty Sark Trust,
it's time to make his final inspection.
We're that close now to the Queen coming,
and inevitably there are all those things that you have to do
last minute. So it's the final push
to get everything ready for Her Majesty.
One thing he can't control is the weather.
I've seen the ship in all sorts of conditions.
Rain, sun, sleet, snow, and, of course, fire.
But it pales into insignificance compared to some of the elements
that have been thrown at her in her working life.
Yeah, I mean, she's been through a lot.
She's an inspiration for me, just coming to look at Cutty Sark.
Seeing Cutty Sark conserved for future generations
resonates with Richard's own childhood memories.
'I did visit Cutty Sark as a boy. I was born not very far away,
'and I can remember coming as a child, both with my grandparents
'and with my parents, and that was an awe-inspiring experience.'
Obviously never imagining that it was going to play
such a significant part in my life later on.
For the last ten years, Richard has been one of the driving forces
behind the Cutty Sark project.
And during this time, the iconic ship has taken over his life.
I suppose, to some extent, I'm guilty of obsessing about her.
But, um, my wife thinks of her as... er, as... um,
the other woman in my life, I suppose.
It's an inanimate object, I know it is,
but there is, you know, a real magic about her.
And, whether it's because she's had to overcome so many hardships,
that, you know... she's a little ship,
and she's come through everything that's been thrown at her,
and I just think it's a remarkable story.
A lot of people have cared about her.
'She's been saved because people love her.'
Cutty Sark is the last of the famous tea clippers,
and one of the fastest sailing ships the world has ever seen.
She was commissioned in 1869 by a Scottish businessman called John Willis.
John Willis was a Scottish ship-owner.
He had a small fleet.
He was quite an eccentric old bachelor,
and his most distinctive feature was his white top hat.
And every time one of his ships went out to sea,
he would go down to the East India Docks,
doff his top hat and say, "Goodbye, my lads."
So he was very attached to his ships and his sailors.
There were many different designs of cargo ships,
but the fastest were nicknamed the clippers.
The traditional design for a ship was a very bluff bow,
a very square ship, that would just rise and fall over the waves.
Cutty Sark and the clipper design was very different, where it
was meant to cut through the waves, this narrow hull cutting edge
and that made them go terribly fast.
Cutty Sark is just over 84 metres long, but only 11 metres wide,
and her sleek shape and narrow hull have fascinated generations.
Hello and welcome. Now, you've put an awful lot of work into this magnificent model.
What was the most difficult part about building it?
It was getting the lines of the hull.
Actually, if I turn it around, we can see the line of the hull.
It's got a beautiful line, actually, has the Cutty Sark,
cos it was a beautiful ship. You can see a nice curve here.
And the shape of her hull allowed her to travel at amazing speeds.
The maximum speed that we know the Cutty Sark travelled at was about 17 and a half knots,
something like 20 miles an hour,
which is an incredible speed for a sailing ship.
And she was covering, sometimes, 300 miles a day.
John Willis wanted to build the fastest ship he could
to bring back one of the most lucrative commodities of the time -
tea from China.
And the great thing was to get the tea crop brought from China
to this country as quickly as possible.
And, of course, the tea that attracted the most interest
was the very first to arrive, so the tea merchants started to offer
an extra ten shillings per ton for the first ship home.
Britain's wealth was built on maritime trade,
and having fast ships like Cutty Sark
was vital to the country's prosperity.
Britain had an enormous sea-faring industry.
London was the largest port in the world.
Dock after dock after dock was being built
throughout the 19th century to cope with the traffic.
In fact, I think it's unique that a city like London,
whose wealth is founded on the merchant navy,
the growth of industry - of prosperity, really -
is founded on ships like Cutty Sark.
And she is a tangible reminder
of the importance of the sea in our lives.
By the end of the 19th century,
much larger steam ships were replacing clippers
for transporting cargo,
using the newly opened Suez Canal to cut down on passage times.
Cutty Sark was making less money,
and so was eventually sold to the Portuguese,
who renamed her Ferreira.
From being one of Britain's finest ships,
she spent the next 30 years being a workhorse
for the Portuguese Empire, carrying cargo all over the world.
Almost forgotten, she was saved from being scrapped
by a rich benefactor called Wilfred Dowman, who brought her back home
to the UK in 1922.
Wilfred Dowman's idea was to restore her back to her former glory -
re-rig her and use her as a sail-training ship.
After Dowman's death, Cutty Sark continued her career
as a training ship up until the early 1950s,
but, by this time, she had again started to deteriorate badly -
so badly, in fact, that her very future hung in the balance.
The Cutty Sark is to be examined by nautical experts.
They will decide her fate,
whether she is fit to survive or whether she must be broken up.
I was a trustee of the Maritime Museum at the time,
and the director was Frank Carr, and he was very interested in, in,
er, well, ships, and old ships particularly,
and he was particularly concerned to try and, er,
keep some of the ones that were just simply disappearing.
In order to acquire her and to build the dock, and to re-rig her,
and everything else, somebody had to do it,
so we established the Trust.
The Trust raised enough money to build a permanent dry dock
to house the ship in Greenwich.
She will make one more trip, to a permanent mooring, where
she will be refitted and preserved as a perfect example of her day,
the day of the tall ships.
She had only the stump mast. There was no rigging of any kind whatever,
so she had to go to a dry dock to be cleaned up and her hull repaired,
and the whole thing rigged from scratch.
And that was quite an undertaking.
The point was to restore her so that she looked right,
but she couldn't have gone to sea with that rig.
With much celebration, the Queen opened the brand new
Cutty Sark visitor attraction in 1957.
It gives me very great pleasure to come to Greenwich today,
to see Cutty Sark, the last of the clippers,
in her permanent dry berth.
Greenwich was already famous for its Maritime Museum,
and Cutty Sark would prove to be another great draw to the public.
Part of the reason why Cutty Sark was preserved in the 1950s was
to be a memorial to the men of the merchant navy.
This was just after the Second World War,
where the losses amongst the merchant navy were colossal.
It was something in the order of one in five died.
She's unique in our maritime history,
because she's the only one of her kind that's still left,
and she was the sort of peak of sail-driven merchant ships
in the 19th century, I suppose.
And it was in this dry dock that Cutty Sark sat
for almost 50 years, attracting more than 15 million visitors.
Then, in the late 1990s, a potentially catastrophic discovery
revealed that time was again taking its toll.
There was a very real sense
that the ship itself might physically collapse,
obviously with disastrous consequences.
She'd been propped up
the way you would normally prop a ship in a dockyard -
for a ship that's going to be there for a few months, not for 50 years.
A ship is not built to sit in a dry dock, it's built to be in water.
So the ship actually, the weight of the ship,
was bursting it more and more at the seams.
And nobody wanted a pile of matchwood
at the bottom of the dry berth.
So that's really when the Maritime Trust,
who were the owners of the ship at the time,
started to give some serious thought
as to how they should tackle the problem.
The challenge was two-fold -
to stop the ship's hull from possible collapse,
and to create a visitor centre within the confines of the dry dock,
the only land the Trust owned.
The first thing the Trust had to do was find an architect,
and, after putting the work out to tender,
Christopher Nash won the contract.
'When I visited the Cutty Sark,
'I was allowed to get down underneath
'and walk around the hull.'
I was reminded, from when I was a child,
going to the Natural History Museum,
and that lovely experience you get
when you walk underneath the blue whale,
the idea of going underneath such a large item.
Inspired by his visit, Christopher came up with a radical plan,
which he presented to the Trust in the spring of 2004.
I remember being in Grimshaw's offices in central London
with Richard Doughty
when suddenly the architect said,
"What do you think about raising the ship?"
We're going to lift her about three metres from where she currently is.
By lifting the ship, you can see this great big space.
We can put a floor in here and make a terrific visitor area underneath.
I know Eric and I sort of looked at each other
and thought, "This is absolutely crazy! Where's he coming from?"
Subliminally, we were saying to each other, "They've gone mad!"
And then we thought about it, and thought about it.
And then you start to think,
"Actually, that's a very clever idea,"
because it immediately solves the problem
of taking the weight off the keel.
But, also, people will be able to go down
and actually see this fantastic shape
that we're spending all this time and effort on trying to preserve.
But the vision didn't just stop there.
We have the idea of putting a canopy of glass panels
right around the ship, to stop the rain getting in.
If we put this canopy at about where the sea level was,
at waterline level, we can actually start to sit
the Cutty Sark in its own new sea of glass.
It became a very exciting idea.
I mean, it was a seminal moment, absolutely, in the project.
And I walked out of that meeting really in a daze
because that, unquestionably, was the moment when
the real vision for the ship was formalised.
It was a new and ambitious concept, but it was also controversial,
and some people asked why the ship simply wasn't put back to sea.
We certainly looked at the idea
of putting Cutty Sark back into the water.
There's no question the best support for the hull is water.
The difficulty comes when you try to balance that
with the fact that you don't want to build a replica by stealth.
We would have had to have physically cut out so much of the ship,
we would have had to have put in so much additional equipment -
bulkheads and safety equipment - it wouldn't have been Cutty Sark,
So we rejected that idea.
What we wanted to do was
to retain as much of the original material as was humanly possible.
The conservation and engineering needed for the new vision
meant it was clearly going to be an expensive project.
So Richard approached the Heritage Lottery Fund for money.
The projected cost was around about 25 million.
And they looked to us to give them 12 or 13 million.
And that was what their original grant award was for.
Well, the Heritage Lottery Fund put up 13 million pounds.
That left us a target of 12 million pounds to raise.
With half the money secured, the rest came from private donors
and various fundraising activities.
I'm looking for a bid of £5,000, ladies and gentlemen.
Work finally began in the winter of 2006.
By now, Cutty Sark was 137 years old,
and the first job was to strip her back to the very core.
One of the major tasks was removing the wooden planks
attached to the hull,
but halfway through the process, disaster struck.
The 19th-century tea clipper the Cutty Sark is on fire.
These are the latest moving pictures we've just got in,
and look at the size of that fire.
We can talk now to Richard Doughty,
who's chief executive of the Cutty Sark Trust.
He's apparently on a train on his way to Greenwich.
What's your reaction to hearing that the Cutty Sark's on fire?
It's just unbelievable.
I mean, this is original fabric.
This is the ship that sailed to the South China Seas.
If we're losing original fabric, we're losing history.
I was numb.
I was absolutely numb.
I was kind of... my adrenaline was kept going because, um, I just was
taking this string of telephone calls all the way up to London.
I discovered, in my haste to get away, I didn't have my wallet,
I didn't have a train ticket. I had nothing.
And I hailed down a taxi, and I said,
"Look, I've got no money, but the Cutty Sark is alight,
"and I need to get there.
"Here's my card. I'll pay you afterwards."
And he drove me to the bottom of Deptford creek.
And the awful, awful thing was
this sort of very intimate smell of Stockholm tar,
that you really only got when you were down in the hold of the ship,
was sort of hanging over Greenwich.
There was this pall of smoke, you know,
and I absolutely feared the worst.
And, you know, I turned, I turned the corner thinking she was lost.
I was immensely sad because, you know, I've, um, you know,
put an awful lot of time and thought
and enthusiasm into this project.
And the thought that it had gone up in smoke,
on my watch, er, was unbearable, really.
We've got members of the emergency services here, sir,
that were on site yesterday.
You were putting the fire out, were you?
We were putting the fire out, sir, yes.
The very next day, the president of the Cutty Sark Trust
made a personal visit to the site to see the damage for himself.
I think in retrospect that it wasn't anything like as serious as it looked,
because most of the stuff that was burning was stuff that had been...
was a tent that was there for the purpose of restoration,
it wasn't significant.
All in all, we got away remarkably lightly.
Because much of the ship had already been removed for conservation,
the main loss suffered was the decking.
Fortunately, these decks dated from previous restorations
and contained very little of the original timber.
She came through it.
And I think that is part of the enduring appeal of Cutty Sark,
the fact that she is a survivor, the fact that, you know,
she survived the storms of Cape Horn,
she survived the ravages of salt corroding her framework,
she survived that fire.
The cause of the fire has never been conclusively established,
but it set the project back by nearly a year
and pushed the projected cost up to about £35 million pounds.
The Cutty Sark is the only Grade I listed ship in the United Kingdom,
and we're there to help save things that are of real value to this country.
So it was exceptional circumstances
and trustees felt that it was appropriate
to give a grant increase,
which was a further £10 million.
But Cutty Sark wasn't lost.
This legendary ship had made yet another of her miraculous escapes.
By the spring of 2008, the conservation was back in full flow.
Everything that could be removed from the ship was removed,
including the rest of the wooden planks that covered the hull.
And so all that was left in the dry dock
was the iron frame that made up Cutty Sark's skeleton.
Traditionally, ships were all wooden.
Cutty Sark, though, is something that's called a composite.
She has a wooden hull but she's reinforced with an iron framework.
It's the iron framework which holds her together.
The ship's body is rather like our own ribcage.
It has these ribs that form the hull.
The original ironwork that made the frame was so corroded
that engineers had to add extra steelwork to strengthen it.
To preserve the ship's iconic shape, these extra ribs provide
additional support for the structure.
They're painted grey so visitors won't confuse them with
Cutty Sark's original framework, which has been painted white.
The white is the original ironwork of the ship which, as you can see,
has rotted away seriously from the salt attack over all the years
since the ship was built.
This has all been grit-blasted and protected with a new paint
system that will hopefully conserve her for 50 years.
But, in addition, these new pieces have been put in
to strengthen the ship so she's no longer fragile.
And it's this new strengthened structure that the wooden planks
that cover Cutty Sark's hull will be bolted onto.
Each of the 541 planks were removed
and stored at a nearby workshop ready for conservation.
It was a mammoth task to take them all off,
and they've all been boxed up, each side going round to protect it,
because when they came off, a lot of them were very fragile.
Every plank has a unique reference number,
so we know exactly where it came off,
know what it's made of, and what condition the plank is in.
Almost all of the hull planks
date from the day Cutty Sark was launched in 1869,
but because ships are designed to sit in water,
the years she's spent in the dry dock have not been kind.
Lots of different techniques and skills are used to conserve the wood,
because, depending on where it's been on the ship,
each plank has specific damage that needs repairing.
A lot of the damage is around bolt holes like this one,
where the water gets in and has got nowhere to go,
so it just rots all around the bolt.
To repair something like this, you cut the whole section out
and put a whole new piece in,
without trying to waste too much of the original material.
We've got this piece of teak to repair this hole that
I've just chopped out, and we use the teak because the plank's made of teak
so it'll expand and contract at the same time in the seasons.
Now this one's in place, we'll leave it to dry
and we'll move on to the next one.
Conserving the planks took four years and, as batches of them
were finished, they were added back on to the outside of the ship.
We've just started to put the planks back on to the hull.
There are about 540 planks to go back on,
and these are about ten, so we've only just started.
Some planks are up to 18 metres in length and fitting them back
into position isn't straightforward because some have to accommodate
the new steel frames that have been added to strengthen the hull.
At the moment, I'm chopping out a section in the timber
to accommodate a new piece of steel.
What we find is you have some frames which are sticking out,
others that are recessed, so part of what I'm doing at the moment
is either sinking channels into this plank,
or building it up a little bit, so that
it will rest snugly against those frames,
so you can get a proper fixing,
and also that it matches precisely the original curve of the ship.
It's just more interesting, really, than normal carpentry.
I mean, I'd rather be working on a project like this
than fitting kitchens.
It's going to take around 10,000 bolts to fix the planks back
on to the hull, each one helping Cutty Sark regain her famous curves.
You can't help but invest in it emotionally.
In fact, I know a lot of people who are exactly the same.
I mean, people always talk about ships as though they're people.
You know, everybody really cares about the Cutty Sark
as though it was somehow alive,
and, I don't know, working here, you can feel that sometimes.
So it's a real privilege.
And it's not just the outside of the ship that's coming together.
Inside, work on putting back the decking has also started.
Looking at the ship in cross-section,
Cutty Sark was basically split into three.
On top, there's the main or weather deck,
so called because it was exposed to the elements.
Beneath it is the middle or tween deck,
which would have been filled with cargo
and which was built between the main deck and the hold below.
The hold itself contained ballast to help balance the ship,
but, like the tween deck,
its main function was to carry Cutty Sark's precious cargo.
When she was a working ship,
this would have just been packed
from the very bottom of the hold, all the way up to the beams,
carrying tea, wool - whatever she could get her hands on.
After originally working in the tea trade for almost ten years,
Cutty Sark was then used to transport wool
from Australia to London.
This meant taking a much more dangerous and stormy route,
a route she wasn't actually designed for,
yet she survived all that was thrown at her.
The wool years were Cutty Sark's most successful.
That's when she really made the record passages
that everyone remembers her for.
Cutty Sark set sailing times from Sydney to London
that no other sailing ship of that size has ever managed to this day.
The most famous captain during this period was Richard Woodget.
Of all the captains, he worked her to the absolute maximum.
He was one of those captains who would never lower a sail
if he really didn't have to.
Captain Woodget was also respected by his crew,
as rare film of someone who actually worked with him
on Cutty Sark reveals.
Captain Woodget was the finest skipper I ever sailed with.
Course, his motto was "keep her going".
He never eased her down, not even in head winds -
always kept her going free.
He was a fine sailor and a good man, all round.
And just, straight to his men.
Captain Woodget was also responsible for capturing
some of the only photographs in existence of Cutty Sark
at sea and under sail.
So this is the camera of Captain Woodget.
It's actually enabled us to have super photographs
of the ship herself in full sail, which is a really unique photograph.
Probably taken from one of the ship's boats,
he's got the crew to row him out there.
But apparently he gave instructions to the crew not to hove the ship to,
so she didn't slow down,
so he could capture Cutty Sark in her full sail with all the sails billowing.
And this is a actually a photograph,
just west of Cape Horn, of one of the icebergs.
There are some fabulous accounts and letters of the crew about
going through icebergs and the noises that it made,
and the ship passing penguins,
so to have a photograph capturing that moment
as he's going just west of Cape Horn is really exciting.
Cutty Sark was originally built to be a tea clipper,
but she arrived just as the Suez Canal opened,
and, therefore, the tea trade disappeared, it went to steamers.
So owners looked for another trade,
and the obvious trade for them was the wool trade to Australia.
Now, that changed the route a great deal.
Now they had to go through the whole of the southern ocean.
You get the biggest waves in the world down there -
80 to 100 feet high.
Those waves are like watery Himalayas. They're huge.
So, suddenly, this ship is having to cope
with a rather different type of sea to the one she was designed for.
She survived because she was built to the very highest standards
of the 19th century.
And, whenever they can, the team undertaking the conservation
are following the exact same methods.
The deck that was here was lost in the fire.
The deck wasn't actually original. It was done in the '30s
So we're replacing that with the same timber, from the same origin,
North America, to the same specifications,
five inch by three inch deep, Douglas fir.
In between each plank,
you have a joint where it butts up to the next plank.
And into that joint, an organic fibre, hemp fibre called oakum,
is caulked, basically, hit with a wooden mallet,
and a wedge-shaped steel iron if you like, a caulking iron.
And then on top of that, melted Stockholm tar, or pitch,
is poured on, and that's the final seal to the joint.
Above the tween deck is the weather deck.
Although destroyed by the fire,
most of this deck actually dated from the 1930s onwards,
and rather than replacing it using traditional methods,
the Trust decided to lay a modern deck instead.
It's a composite deck, with three layers of ply, glued together
with 20mm thick teak planks, run along on top of that.
And with a composite deck, because it's so interwoven
and there's so much glue et cetera,
it's pretty bullet-proof against any sort of water coming through.
It's a controversial decision.
We've probably spent more time on that one aspect of the project
than anything else.
I always wanted to lay a traditional deck.
We're doing something different, and I was kind of won over in the finish
because I do believe that if the technology that we've used had been
available to the people who built Cutty Sark, they would have used it.
The main deck is using the latest 21st-century construction techniques
to guarantee everything below it is protected from rainwater.
But most of the conservation work on the ship uses traditional methods.
At his workshop in Bedfordshire, Paul Ferguson is restoring
the Cutty Sark gild-work.
This is real gold. This is 23 and a quarter carat,
which is a lot more real than a lot of jewellery.
Paul has been gilding for over 30 years, and uses traditional
techniques the original gilders of the ship would have recognised.
We wipe the brush on our face
because it picks up just a little of the oils from your skin,
which is just enough for the gold to stick to the brush while
you're picking it up, but not enough to make it a permanent stick,
which allows you to manoeuvre the gold
on to whatever it is you're gilding.
There's a lot of patience with gilding.
I find that you can't rush things.
It's very easy to try and get the gold on,
and you can rush that and get the wrong colours for the piece,
especially when repairing work.
He's great, when he gets it right!
Matthew, my son, has helped me for many years and,
if it was his desire, he could follow in my footsteps.
I've been working here since I can remember,
I've been sweeping up since the age of about four, round here,
but properly gilding probably since I've been about 12,
so about 10 years now.
100 years from now, the work we're doing now will have weathered
and someone else will be standing here,
and restoring what we're restoring now.
There'll be people who perhaps haven't even been born yet
that'll be working on this.
And it's nice to feel that continuity,
continuity with the people that have gone before us,
and who are coming after.
Today we have bought the figurehead of the Cutty Sark
back to be fitted on the ship.
This is Nannie here. She's had a new lick of paint on her,
she's been worked on down at our workshop.
There is a long tradition of figureheads on ships,
and Cutty Sark's is called Nannie.
The original will be displayed inside the ship.
This one, which will be exposed to the elements,
is actually a replica, carved in the 1950s.
The story of the figurehead goes that
she originally came from a poem by Robert Burns called Tam o' Shanter.
Tam o' Shanter, of course, was a ne'er-do-well farmer.
Every market day, in Ayr, he would get drunk,
and then try and find his way home, on his horse Meg.
One dark and stormy night,
he's riding his horse and he comes to Alloway Kirk,
which he sees lights on and, being drunk, he goes and peers.
And inside the church there's all kinds of shenanigans going on,
there are naked people dancing around, there's the devil
playing the bagpipes, the altar's been desecrated,
and he sees this terribly beautiful witch, though, called Nannie.
And she's wearing a short nightdress, a cutty sark,
and he screams out, "Well done, Cutty Sark!"
Of course, everyone then realises he's there and starts chasing him.
He leaps on his horse and makes his getaway.
Leading the chase is Nannie, the beautiful witch,
and he gets to the keystone of the bridge.
Nannie, being a witch, can't cross running water,
but she pulls out the horse's tail.
And he makes his escape.
Now, why Jock Willis would name the ship after
the undergarment of someone who couldn't cross running water
has never been really explained.
Another traditional craft involves conserving the wires that hold up the masts.
These wires make up what's called the standard rigging,
and there are over two kilometres to repair.
The Cutty Sark's the biggest rigging job we've undertaken
on one vessel at one time.
We've got wires here that are 60 metres long.
They're longer than our shed.
So the first process is to clean the wire.
This wire's been cleaned and it's now been treated with this mixture
of lanolin and tallow. Lanolin is an extract from wool fat,
which is very good for your skin,
so all these boys have lovely soft hands!
So what we do is we put the tallow and lanolin together,
and we've got a chip fat fryer,
and that just keeps it nice and hot, so it's a nice thin liquid which
we can then apply on to the wire.
And by holding the pot underneath, we can just brush that in there
and get it right into the nooks and crannies.
It's an anti-corrosion product.
You never see a rusty sheep, so it must work.
We then parcel the wire, and that'll be parcelled with hessian.
Cut it into strips, then we wind that on, on top of the lanolin.
Once parcelled, the wire is given an additional covering
to further protect it.
And, just like before,
the techniques used date right back to the ship's original construction.
The men who sailed and worked on the Cutty Sark
would have been quite pleased, if they came back as ghosts today,
to recognise the tools that I'm actually using.
They would also recognise, without doubt, the smells,
because the smell in here, the Stockholm tar,
people say it's the real essence of the old sailing ships.
They would have walked through this door
and known what it's about, and they would have known the process.
By 2009, three years into the conservation,
Cutty Sark was being prepared for her biggest challenge -
being lifted into the air by three metres.
But as the moment approached, a major discovery was made
that was going put the project into yet more jeopardy.
The sides of the dry dock,
which were supposed to support the ship's weight once lifted,
had serious structural problems.
I could physically put my hand into the concrete structure
and pull out the gravel.
And we were relying on that structure to be able to
properly support the ship, so we had to reinforce that dry berth.
We ended up, indeed, having to cut off the whole top
of the structure and recast it.
We had to pump grout down into the concrete.
Those things added hugely to the cost of the project.
And it wasn't just the problem with the dry dock.
The conservation itself was costing a lot more than estimated.
It was very clear that there were far more serious issues
in restoring the Cutty Sark than people had realised to begin with.
So costs were escalating.
At that point, in around 2009, we had a review of the whole project.
There certainly was a time where we were very concerned about how
we could keep the show on the road.
We always had to be mindful that we weren't trading insolvently.
With rising costs, it was clear that the project was going to need
much more money, and someone was on the horizon who could help.
I got involved with the Cutty Sark when, frankly, it was broke,
and in considerable disarray,
resulting that an assessment had to be made
as to how the devil were we going to fund it?
Lord Sterling, former executive chairman of P&O Ferries,
had a love of the sea and a passion for sailing.
He was already the chairman of Britain's National Maritime Museum
and had lots of important and wealthy contacts.
But, before he would become involved with the Cutty Sark project,
he had conditions.
The first was to bring his own team on board.
Cutty Sark has had an awful lot of challenges.
You're working on six or seven different levels,
all at the same time.
Lord Sterling got me involved, and said could I help him?
I said I would, to get things done in difficult circumstances.
With his team in place, Lord Sterling's second condition
was to have a complete audit of the entire project.
There's no point whatsoever trying to find out where we could
raise the funds, and put one's name on the line to do it,
unless we were absolutely sure what the problems were,
and can we deal with them?
So the first thing that had to be done was to assess it properly.
The audit concluded that taking the fire,
the new work needed to fix the dry dock,
and rising conservation costs into consideration,
the total amount to complete the project
would come in at around £50 million, twice the original estimate.
50 million pounds!
Would you spend that much money on the Cutty Sark?
With the best will in the world, I don't know.
I'd almost sort of step back and have to think.
We are where we are and I do believe that the ship
will repay the investment that's been put into her by the bucketload.
And with this new price tag, and his team on site,
Lord Sterling went to work with his powerful contacts.
He was able to open doors.
You know, for me suddenly to be sitting in a room
with Boris Johnson, for example, was amazing.
To be able to persuade
the Department of Culture, Media and Sport
to invest in this project was quite extraordinary.
Lord Sterling, what would you like, tea or coffee?
-I'm going to have a tea.
-Tea. Right, OK.
Lord Sterling managed to attract enough
private and public funding to get the project back on track.
Cutty Sark could now enter the most critical phase of her rebirth,
and this would be her toughest journey of all.
At the site, the engineers who were going to lift Cutty Sark had arrived.
Well, after a year of planning,
a year of design, a year of manufacture,
we're now ready to raise the ship
up to its new three metre in-the-air position.
She's 650 tonnes of very fragile ship,
but we think everything is covered. All the checks have been done.
Everything's been ticked off this morning,
and we're finally ready to go.
We've added 150 tonnes
of strengthening steelwork into the ship.
It's an exciting day.
It's not very often that someone lifts up a Grade I listed ship.
I mean, today is, is the...
It's a culmination of months and months of work.
Meeting after meeting after meeting.
And at last we're there.
To turn the architects' vision into a reality,
some of the world's top engineers have been brought in
to plan and execute the lift.
The ship has been sitting on its keel in the dry dock
for 50, 60 years.
Ships are designed to be supported uniformly, by the sea,
all around their keel, giving it a uniform buoyancy.
When you sit it on the keel, ships start to sag,
because they've got just a line of load,
and the ship sags like an old man, the stomach drops
and it starts to fold out on itself.
And this changes all the stresses, all the form of the hull.
And that's when the ship is finally finished.
As part of the lifting process,
it was looking at how we could elevate that ship,
not just elevate it, but also reverse that bellying process,
to bring the hull back to its original form.
And so the engineers came up with an ingenious plan.
So we looked at the idea of having a strut...
..like this, a converted coat hanger, which grabbed the keel
and grabbed the ribs along its side.
This huge upside-down steel coat hanger is going to hold the ship
as she is lifted, and then transfer her weight on to the dry dock.
We're able to reverse this bellying process by adjusting
the length of these struts or ties here.
As engineers prepared for the lift,
the man who helped rescue her 50 years ago was invited to see her
sitting on her keel for the very last time.
After a final get-together and, appropriately for Cutty Sark,
a cup of tea on the deck, the whole site is prepared for the big day.
She's resting on 24 jacks, each capable of lifting 200 tonnes.
This box here is a jack.
What happens - each jack has a ram in the centre,
which will extend and raise this box by 100 millimetres.
It's not going to go whoosh up into the air like an elevator,
it's going to be lifted very slowly.
As the lifting is going on,
we're monitoring everything that is going on in the ship in real time.
And the data which is collected there
is then fed through the window here, into our command post.
We have cameras set up inside the ship and outside the ship.
And, also, all the data that's connected to the jacks
and the jack loads which is coming into the computers here.
Cutty Sark weighs around 650 tonnes and,
even with all the extra steel added to strengthen her,
there is a very real danger she'll twist and fracture during the lift.
The moment of truth is when it lifts off the ground, yeah.
That's the point when it really says you've got it right
or you've got it wrong, and there's nothing you can do.
Everybody is working towards that moment,
and you can see it in everybody's faces that
there's a slight amount of tension there that it should all go right.
Everybody's ready out there, I give the all clear
and we're going.
And, with the simple push of a handle,
Cutty Sark takes her final voyage.
We all expected something to snap,
something to groan, something to creak,
and we all anticipated having something to deal with.
She just proved to be so strong
and just lifted without bending, or anything.
She just took it in her stride.
It takes two days to lift Cutty Sark three metres.
Go on, stand underneath it. Go on!
Bit... I'm actually speechless.
Cutty Sark now rests in her final position,
looking out forever across the River Thames,
to the city she helped build.
But with just a year to go before the grand opening,
there's still a huge amount of work to be done.
Last board in there, lads.
The new composite deck is completed.
And the final planks are attached to the hull.
After five years, it is an utter relief, I must say.
It's been a huge achievement.
At long last, Cutty Sark gets her rudder back.
Just about there, yeah.
Nice one. Don't drop it on anyone's foot.
The hull is adorned with brass.
And gets a final coat of paint.
This is the last letter.
So, Darren, you're going to have a cheque ready for me
-when the inspection's finished, yeah?
-What is cheque?
Work also continues on the canopy that will surround her.
She'll soon sail on a sea of glass and steel.
With the work drawing to a close,
the team work day and night.
The riggers are back on site, and, as her masts return,
Cutty Sark will once again be seen from miles around.
It's taken years of planning, craftsmanship and sheer hard work,
but, for Richard and the team,
the end is finally in sight.
I'm absolutely buzzing. She looks magnificent.
She's been raised up,
she's surrounded by this sea of glass,
she is fit for a queen!
And 55 years after Her Majesty first opened Cutty Sark here
in Greenwich, she's coming back
with His Royal Highness the Duke of Edinburgh.
It's now all about the last-minute arrangements for the royal visit.
And Richard takes a moment to reflect on all they've achieved.
This is what it's all about. You can actually see the frames of the ship.
These white iron ribs, the cross-bracing, the planks.
And we're now trying to give people an idea of what it was like
to be literally inside the cargo hold.
This is what it's all been about - bringing it back to our public.
It's the day of the royal opening,
and, despite the terrible weather,
the crowds have gathered to watch the momentous occasion.
The Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh are taken for a tour
around the ship.
And, after a wave to the crowd,
it's time to meet the team who've made it all happen.
It's like you've been on a very long voyage,
and you've now come to the end and you're stepping off.
And although it's fantastic it's finished,
it was just such a great thing to be part of.
Now the sun's come out!
Such a beautiful shape, the way the light glints off it.
It's just been a very, very special day,
and it's just absolutely perfect to be celebrating with all the people
who made this project possible.
She really now has a chance for a whole new lease of life.
Well done, Cutty Sark!
The ship is a part of yesterday, part of today and part of tomorrow.
The Cutty Sark is an absolutely critical national treasure.
She is, I think, a sort of tangible reminder
of a different way of life.
That's really why she captures my imagination.
This is the end of a chapter.
There won't be any more of her kind.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
Special programme telling the dramatic story of Cutty Sark, the world famous clipper ship, from her launch in 1869 to the modern-day conservation work to save her.
With unique access to the ship during the conservation project, the film features exclusive interviews with the key people responsible for bringing this national treasure back to life, including HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, whose affinity with the ship spans more than half a century.
Work began to conserve Cutty Sark in 2006, with a vision that was both audacious and controversial: to lift the ship three metres into the air and surround her in a sea of glass and steel.
Just months into the project, in the early hours of the morning, fire broke out and one of the most historically significant ships in the world went up in smoke - or so it seemed.
With the damage less serious than first thought, Cutty Sark was not lost. The whole episode was simply another example of the world's last remaining tea clipper surviving against all odds.
Over the years, the conservation team has gone to great lengths to preserve the ship's authenticity. We meet the men and women using pioneering techniques and traditional skills to save this rich slice of British history.
In May 2011, the ship faced the most crucial, and potentially catastrophic, stage of her rebirth. In an enormous feat of engineering, she was lifted three metres off the ground and edged into her final resting position, looking out over London's River Thames.
In April 2012 she was finally opened to the public.