The Cutty Sark's Figurehead
Weathervane and witches scourge
The Cutty Sark's weathervane , and right, my scourge, made of rope from the ship, is a replica horses tail! I had retrieved this piece of rope from the floor of the dry dock that this tea clipper is now berthed in, it had clearly come from the lower rigging as it had a lot of pine tar, otherwise known as Stockholm tar on it, it took a lot of cleaning but I ended up with something special and authentic.
The Cutty Sark's Bow
Another picture of the figurehead, this time directly in front of the bow and under the Bowsprit, the near horizontal mast at the front. The central chain you see is one of those that lead to the so called Dolphin catcher a downward pointing brace.
The Cutty Sark's Witch Restored
Nannie the Witch is looking her best lately. So is the whole ship after a huge refit that was nearly for nothing when a huge blaze engulfed the ship on 21 May 2007. Thankfully Nannie the figurehead was, along with 50% of the ships wooden items and all her exhibits, away elsewhere when the fire struck. So she was not to be the last Witch burned in Britain. It's a shame she isn't nude witch, Skyclad, that delightful pagan name for nudity, would make a fitting name for a flyer like this tea clipper was!
To the minds of many a Witch will always have a familiar , usually a cat, Nannie the figurehead never had less than two ships cats to keep her company. In the days before the stock was removed from the anchor so it's shank could be drawn inboard ships anchors were operated from a pair of wooden beams called the Catheads, these were either side of the bows a carving of a cats head was a very common decoration for ships carvers to add and the Cutty Sark was no exception. Above (left) is a photo of the starboard Cathead with it's cats head carving. The resin replica on the right was a souvenir purchased in the Bosun's Locker, the ships shop . The term is also used in the oil and gas drilling industry by the way, where it is a spool shaped attachment on winches for winding handling ropes around.
For very high resolution click image..
The Long John Silver Collection
The Sammy Ofer Gallery under the ships bows in the dry dock holds the largest collection of merchant ships figureheads in the world, all are part of the Long John Silver collection with the exception of Nannie you see at the top. Long John Silver who was really called Sydney Chambers (1873-1959) was an enthusiastic collector of maritime artefacts and he donated the figureheads seen here to the Cutty Sark in 1953. Many are from unknown ships, presumably wrecked, some others are of Victorian celebrities like General Gordon, Disraeli and Florence Nightingale. He dedicated his collection of 101 figureheads to the 'Little Ships' of the Dunkirk evacuation of the British expeditionary force from France in 1940.
The Cutty Sark
A look at the old clipper ship from the stern in it's dry dock before the latest restoration. She sat lower in the dock those days, lying on her keel for which it wasn't really suited, that has been changed. The four flags you see flying below the Red Ensign at the mizzen are the ships signal letters JKWS, this would identify her to other ships passing at sea, useful in an era without radio to report each others progress at the next port. The Muntz metal plating *on the hull, looking much brighter recently was to protect the ship from the wood boring mollusc with the misleading names of Teredo worm , or Shipworm. How much rigging is there on the Cutty Sark? Eleven miles all told! The tarpaulin you see over the boom spar would keep the watch keepers out of the sun in port or at anchor, and keep the officers cabins and saloon below cooler.
* An economical option to copper plating, Muntz metal is 60% copper, 40% zinc and has a little iron in it. More... http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Muntz_metal
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