Cutty Sark

Cutty Sark in Greenwich
Cutty Sark in Greenwich

The Clipper Cutty Sark was built on the River Clyde in Scotland in 1869 for Jock Willis Shipping Line. It was originally designed to carry Tea from China to England and to do this as fast as possible. A Clipper is a three masted, square rigged ship with a narrow hull and a shallow keel, this was important when sailing up the rivers in China to load Tea. It was one of the last Tea Clippers ever built and also one the fastest, actually it was likely the fastest.

Cutty Sark masts and rigging sen from the Bow
Cutty Sark masts and rigging sen from the Bow
Cutty Sark masts and Rigging as seen from the aft deck
Cutty Sark masts and Rigging as seen from the aft Poop deck.
Details of the rigging.
Details of the rigging.
Mooring bitts
Mooring bitts
Cutty Sark's copper clad keel.
Cutty Sark’s copper clad keel.
Interior of Cutty Sark with the timbers that make up the hull of the ship.
Interior of Cutty Sark with the planks mounted to the steel frame that make up the hull of the ship.

The Cutty Sark was built from East India Teak for the portions above the waterline while American Rock Elm was used for the bottom parts. The deck was made of 3.5″ Teak and the tween deck from 3″ Yellow Pine. The rudder was made from English Oak. Cutty Sark was built with three decks; the Main deck, the tween deck and the lower Hold.

The Liverpool house was at the stern of  the ship and it held accommodations for the Master and also the Masters Saloon which was the most luxurious part of the Cutty Sark. It has a big wooden table for studying charts and to dine on. The Saloon has very nicely aged Mahogany paneling all around. The Liverpool house also accommodated a pantry, a head and accommodations for the First and Second Mates as well as the Steward. The portions below the main deck were mainly used to carry cargo.

Ladder leading to the Liverpool house in the Stern from the Poop deck Wheel area.
Ladder leading to the Liverpool house in the Stern from the Poop deck Wheel area.
Captain's stateroom on the Cutty Sark
Master’s cabin in the Liverpool house on the Cutty Sark.
Pantry in the Stern to serve the Master and other officers on the Cutty Sark.
Pantry in the Liverpool house at the Stern to serve the Master and other officers on the Cutty Sark.
Masters Saloon in the Liverpool house.
Masters Saloon in the Liverpool house.

In 1872 a forward deckhouse was added to house the crew that were not houses in the aft deckhouse and that previously had slept under deck in the forward part of the Cutty Sark. In addition it held the workshop for the carpenter and the sailmaker as well as the Galley.

An image from a cabin with a hologram of a young sailor writing a letter, to home maybe...
An image from a cabin with a hologram of a young sailor writing a letter, to home maybe…
Workshop onboard the Cutty Sark
Workshop onboard the Cutty Sark.
The ships galley
The ships galley.
Among the provisions were live animals such as pigs and hens kept on deck.
Among the provisions were live animals such as pigs and hens kept on deck.
Cutty Sark & the Tea trade
Cutty Sark & the Tea trade

The cargo that Cutty Sark was built for was tea from China. As steamships came onto the scene in the latter half of the 1800’s, they started competing for the cargo. With steamers becoming faster with improvements in the steam engines and since the steamers were able to use the shorter Suez Canal route to China that was not well suited for a Clipper, even the fast Cutty Sark (17.5 knots was the highest speed recorded) eventually became a victim of the changing times. There used to be a premium paid to the ship that arrived first with the first Tea of the year, so speed was very important. After the Tea trade was gone for the sailing ships there were efforts made to keep Cutty Sark sailing with other cargo, such as Wool from Australia and at times she had other freight going to Australia, such as the piano seen below. However the glory years had definitely come to an end and she was eventually sold in 1895 to a Portuguese firm for £1,250.00 and renamed “Ferreira” after the owner of the firm that bought her.

After having had many owners and seen many events she came to England in 1954 and was placed in a dry dock in Greenwich in South East London. She was carefully restored and re-rigged to be ready for exhibition. The Duke of Edinburgh was instrumental in setting up the Cutty Sark Preservation Society in 1951 and laid the foundation stone for the dry dock himself. Today he is the president of the Cutty Sark Trust which currently is the entity in charge of the continuing preservation efforts.

Wool bales from Australia
Wool bales from Australia
Close up on a Wool Bale
Close up on a Wool Bale
Piano destined for Sydney Australia onboard the Cutty Sark as cargo in 1889.
Piano destined for Sydney Australia onboard the Cutty Sark as cargo in 1889.
Ship's bell
Ship’s bell and the story of how it was stolen and ultimately returned.

The name Cutty Sark was taken from the poem “Tam O’Shanter” written by Scottish poet Robert Burns. It was the nickname of the witch Nannie Dee who together with other witches and beings were chasing the farmer Tam O’Shanter when he was on his way home after a night of drinking in town. Nannie Dee eventually snagged his horses’ tail before he managed to cross the River Doon to safety because witches dare not cross water. Nannie Dee was wearing a Sark (Scottish term for a chemise or undergarment) since this was given to her as a child it was ‘cut’ meaning it was way too short. “Cutty sark” was the name Tam O’Shanter used when, after seeing Nannie Dee dancing outside the haunted church and thus awakening his desires, he cried out: “Weel done cutty-sark!”. The figurehead of the Cutty Sark is a carving of Nannie Dee.

A carving of Nannie Dee is the figurehead on the bow of the Cutty Sark.
A carving of Nannie Dee is the figurehead on the bow of the Cutty Sark.
Cutty Sark's namesake Whisky
Cutty Sark’s namesake Whisky

Cutty Sark Whisky was created on March 3 1923 and it was the brainchild of  Berry Bros. & Rudd – London Wine & Spirits merchants that are still located at 3 St James Street in London. It is a range of blended Scotch Whisky and is a product of Edrington plc of Glasgow with offices located only 10 miles from where the Cutty Sark was built. The home of the blend is considered to be at the Glenrothes distillery in Speyside, Scotland. The currently used label (since 1955) has a drawing of Cutty Sark that was made by a Swedish artist, Carl Georg August Wallin .

Cranes of London

Cranes in the Docklands
Cranes of the London Docklands

The cranes above in the old London Docklands next to Canary Wharf are some of the few cranes in London that you can see sitting idle. The London Docklands was once the home of the largest port in the world, the port of London. During Roman and medieval times ships would dock in the city of London, but this provided poor shelter from the elements and there was rampant thievery. Space was also very limited quayside, so in 1696 the Howland Great Dock was built in Rotherhithe. This later became part of the Surrey Commercial Docks which provided great sheltered docking for 120 large ships with ample secured space.

Thames Cranes
Thames Cranes
Canary Wharf construction cranes.
Canary Wharf construction cranes.

Today as you can see above, the Canary Wharf area is under rampant construction with busy cranes moving building materials and supplies up and down everywhere. In this area it is no longer for building docks, it is for building offices and living quarters.

Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park in Stratford looking towards one of Stratford's shopping centers.
Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park in Stratford looking towards one of Stratford’s shopping centers.

Not far from Canary Wharf is the Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park in Stratford which is still, 5 years after the 2012 Olympics in the middle of a rampant building boom. Cranes can be seen in every direction when looking out from atop the ArchelorMittal Orb.

Another view from the Orb showing the Yellow Cranes
Another view from the Orb showing the Yellow Cranes.
View towards the city from the Orb with City Cranes
View towards the city from the Orb with City Cranes.
Bank Cranes
Bank Cranes
Walkie Talkie Cranes
Walkie Talkie Cranes
Massive Cranes
Massive Cranes
Albert Crane
Albert Crane

Not even the Albert memorial erected to the memory of her husband by Queen Victoria in 1872 (designed by Sir George Gilbert Scott in Gothic revival style), can escape the Cranes. The Big Question is; When will London be overbuilt? Some think it may come sooner than expected, given Brexit and the level of units currently under construction.

Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park London

Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park. From left, the Aquatics center, The ArchelorMittal Orbit metal sculpture and the London Stadium.
Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park. From left, the Aquatics center, The ArchelorMittal Orbit metal sculpture and the London Stadium.

The Queen Elisabeth Olympic Park and the arenas were built in East London for the 2012 Summer Olympics that were held in the city. The London arena is now home to the football (US-‘soccer’) team West Ham United.  The towering sculpture ArchelorMittal Orbit is a lookout tower with a slide, a free fall abseil, it is also labelled the tallest sculpture in the UK.

The ArchelorMittal Orb up close.
The ArchelorMittal Orb up close.
The City viewed from the Orb.
The City viewed from the Orb.
London Stadium, formerly known as the Olympic Stadium, is now home to the football team West Bromwich.
London Stadium, formerly known as the Olympic Stadium, is now home to the football team West Bromwich.
The Aquatic centre
The Aquatic centre.

The Aquatic centre was originally designed by Zaha Hadid in 2004. This was before the Olympic bid was complete and the original design did not have room for as many spectators as was needed for the Olympics, so two spectator wings were added for the Olympics. The added sections have since been removed, they were only present during the Olympic games in 2012.

The Aquatics Center seen from atop the ArchelorMittal Orb.
The Aquatics Center seen from atop the ArchelorMittal Orb.
Lea River running through the Olympic Park.
Lee River running through the Olympic Park.

Lee River (also referred to as Lea River) that runs through the Olympic Park in East London, was long a forgotten river that ran through mountains of old refrigerators and other scrap mountains in the scrapyards that used to surround the river. It was essentially a tic wasteland. When London was awarded the 2012 summer Olympics that all changed and the river today is a beautifully restored piece of nature that enhances the environment considerably in this part of East London.

Lea River in the Lea River Vally.
Lee River in the Lee River Vally.
Wildlife like this bird loves the Lea River.
Wildlife like this bird loves the Lee River.
Lee Valley Velodrome
Lee Valley Velodrome

Lee Valley Velodrome was the home of track cycling events during the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics. The building was designed by Hopkins Architects together with landscape Architectural firm Grant Associates.

The park is full of nice plants, here is one: Red Hot Poker or Kniphofia as it is named is a flowering plant in the Asphodelaceae family.
The park is full of nice plants, here is one: Red Hot Poker or Kniphofia as it is named is a flowering plant in the Asphodelaceae family.

Soul of a Nation at Tate modern

Soul of a Nation poster at Tate modern with Barkley L. Hendricks, Icon For My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved Any Black People--Bobby Seale), 1969. Collection of Liz and Eric Lefofsky.
Soul of a Nation poster at Tate modern with Barkley L. Hendricks, Icon For My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved Any Black People–Bobby Seale), 1969. Collection of Liz and Eric Lefofsky.

Soul of a nation at Tate modern in London is a trip through African American art through the times of the civil rights movement and beyond. There are powerful art pieces that clearly shows the struggles of people in a society full of of prejudice and even hatred towards people based on the color of their skin. The exhibit has numerous great and thought provoking works of art and it also has posters, magazines and other materials from the Black Panther Party in then 60’s and onward. The original name of the  party was Black Panther Party for Self Defense and it was founded in 1966 in Oakland California. The aim of the party was initially to monitor Police activity in order to try and prevent Police brutality against African Americans. The history of the party and it’s contributions to the civil rights movement is controversial and there are many different perspectives on the value of the contributions the party made to history and the movement. It is however clear that the party did have a substantial impact on American society whichever way you chose to look at it.

My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People – Bobby Seale), 1969 by Barkley Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York
My Man Superman (Superman Never Saved any Black People – Bobby Seale), 1969 by Barkley Hendricks. Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York.

There are some very powerful pieces of art and you can look at the art and appreciate it, but one should also reflect on the struggles that produced the art and what lessons can be learned from the messages that it sends to the world.

Barkley L. Hendricks, What's Going On (1974) Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery.
Barkley L. Hendricks, What’s Going On (1974) Courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery.

What’s Going On was a nod to Marvin Gaye’s song with the same name and it signifies when Black protest music became a hip thing and was popular among different groups of people.

SOUL OF A NATION: ART IN THE AGE OF BLACK POWER
Until 22 Oct 2017

Soul of a Nation shines a bright light on the vital contribution of Black artists to a dramatic period in …