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‘Weel Done Cutty Sark’

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‘Weel Done Cutty Sark’

Just spent 4 excellent days in London staying with my eldest son James. We managed to visit a few places and pubs. As always, London offered some great photo opportunities. I had forgotten how impressive the Cutty Sark was. Built on the Clyde in 1869, she was one of the last tea clippers to be built and one of the fastest, coming at the end of a long period of design development which halted as sailing ships gave way to steam propulsion.

The ship was named after the witch in Robert Burns‘ 1791 poem Tam o’ Shanter. The ship’s figurehead, the original of which has been attributed to carver Fredrick Hellyer of Blackwall, is a stark white carving of the bare-breasted witch with long black hair holding Tam’s horse’s tail in her hand. In the poem she wore a linen sark (Scots for a short chemise or undergarment), that she had been given as a child, which explains why it was cutty, or in other words far too short. Tam sees the witch dancing and shouts out ‘Weel done Cutty Sark’, at this point she gives chase to Tom on his grey horse.

Here is one of my shots of the figurehead which must have looked impressive as the ship sped through the waves at her maximum logged speed of 17.5 knots (32.4 km/h; 20.1 mph).


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