Cutty Sark ‘Ready By 2012′

Whoopee. The Cutty Sark will be ready by 2012, according to a joint announcement by the Mayor Boris Johnson and Gordon Brown today.

Dazza sent me a link to the news at the BBC website, where the two leaders seem to be announcing it like it’s a good thing that it’s two-bloomin’-years late. All they care about is that it will be ready for the Olympics.

The excuse is, apparently, that, in the fire, “the frame had corroded more than first thought”. Hmm.

I thought I’d check out the Cutty Sark website and found a statement. (I never got a reply to any of my queries, btw).

It’s mainly gushing about how marvellous it is that the ship’s going to be around for the Olympics and the creation of the Royal Borough. Gordon Brown waffles some platitudes about how sad everyone was when the fire damaged it (sticking his neck out as usual…) and Boris Johnson has the gall to say “I am thrilled that the restoration is progressing with speed since the fire in 2007,” which proves he’s not visited Greenwich for sometime.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m really keen to see the Cutty Sark back again, looking lovely. And I still think it could look spectacular with the plans to raise it, complete with lightshows and corporate jollies – as long as they can find a way to do it without totally killing the ship. I mean, let’s face it, she was never going to sail again, and this could have been – and, yes, still could be – a fabulous focus for the town centre.

I just get the feeling that at the very least we’ve not been kept in the loop about this. I mean what HAS been going on?

By not telling the people who have supported them in the past how things are progressing, they’ve missed out on, if nothing else, a great money-raising opportunity. I, for one, would have cheerily put my hand in my pocket again – and been happy to join in fund-raising shindigs as far as this little blog’s concerned – but I was hardly likely to do it when, even as a Friend, I got no news, only second and third-hand rumours which may or may not have any basis in truth – we just don’t know.

They appear to have feted the big donors (understandable, of course) but completely ignored the smaller, possibly more local, supporters who may not have managed the millions that the big cheeses did, but who, together could have made a substantial difference.

At least we can be sure that this latest deadline is the last one – after all, if they miss the Olympics, we can pretty much kiss the entire project goodbye.

14 Comments to “Cutty Sark ‘Ready By 2012′”

  1. Paul says:

    I'm glad they have secured the extra funding.

    But in such cases, I can't help wondering where does the money go? Is this £28m they've raised now? How much of that is going on fees to consultancies and architects, who see the ship as a cash cow?

    A friend of mine is one of the best wood carvers in the country, at the moment working on a Grinling Gibbons restoration. People like him get paid a pittance. Yet stripping a cast iron frame, and replacing burned wood, is costing over £20m. You could surely build a couple of clipper ships from scratch with that amount of dosh.

  2. Anonymous says:

    £46 million?! I stumbled on this looking for updates about the cutty sark. I'm interested as my friend used to work on the restoration and he couldn't believe the state of the project. The fire, which apparently didn't do that much damage, really was just another symptom of appalling management right from the start, and lack of knowledge (or humility to ask or find people with expertise). As a result practises for conserving the ship were changed and scrapped continually with time being wasted repairing bits already worked on. I can't begin to imagine how much money has gone down the drain so far. The word electrolysis used to get my friend going, hundreds of thousands wasted on that apparently.
    I think the reason why there is so little being revealed by the Cutty Sark Trust speaks volumes about the state of the project. It seems to me there has been a massive opportunity missed to build a working ship and preserve traditional skills.
    It amazes me there seems to be so little coverage or questioning about it, and as far as i can tell the press just seem to regurgitate what is on the website.

  3. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    I think one of the reasons why this isn't higher profile is that no one who actually knows anything seems prepared to go on the record or blow a whistle – and until that happens, Mr/Ms Anonymous, any investigation by journalists or broadcasters wouyld be based on rumour – easily shot down.

    I am sure that Andrew Gilligan would LOVE to hear from someone who is in a position to speak with any kind of authority.

    Me? I don't know. We hear virtually nothing. Letters and emails go unanswered. There is an occasional press release when we hear that even more moneys' being pumped in from somewhere or other.

    For all I know, it could be going swimmingly – and indeed – I hope it is. I WANT this project to succeed. My beef is that we don't know what's going on behind those tattered shrouds…

  4. Dave says:

    I would be interested to know people think about the amount of money poured into this project.

    When would you say enough is enough, we are not prepared to spend any more money ?

  5. Anonymous says:

    Please don't call it the Royal Borough.

    The People's Republic of Greenwich is more apt!!!

  6. Dave says:

    The cost of this project is now £46M, what's the betting that it reaches £50M by it's completion date in 2021, an absolute scandal.

  7. Dave says:

    Sorry I should have said 'completion date in 2012'

  8. Anonymous says:

    Have a look at yesterday's Telegraph: "Cutty Sark restoration turning into a fiasco" Not a happy ship, it seems!

    And a good question no one seems to be asking: What exactly is the final resoration going to look like?

  9. Paul says:

    Steffan Meyric Hughes, news editor of Classic Boat magazine: "I hear little good about the project and just about everybody is agreed that the ship should not be on legs. It reminds me of a funfair ride. It is undignified, as well as being structurally inadvisable."

    Julian Harrap, the architect behind the restoration of Brunel's SS Great Britain: "They are actually putting the artefact itself at risk, and that's a fundamental issue."

    Glad to see Gilligan's reading your blog and has discovered this scandal.

    It's outrageous; £46m or so spent so far with a prospect the ship could be irreparably damaged. This fits exactly with the stories from the autumn that Balfour Beatty had flown in lots on consultants but done little actual work. Don't want to sound like a torygraph readers, but how fitting for the modern age: all the money gone on consultancy and computer mockups, with bugger-all spent on doing the actual work.

  10. Wolfe says:

    Dave – to be honest, bearing in mind the alleged disgraceful mismanagement of the renovation of the ship and the, also alleged, and, equally disgraceful, misguided use of funding I suspect that your original 2021 date is possibly nearer the mark…At least it's now starting to be talked about in a national newspaper. Let's hope others follow and, perhaps, ask why those who have failed to deliver results so far remain in their positions.

  11. richard says:

    Watched programme last night on History Channel.
    About the ship,
    Said everything is on track and the restoration is going well..
    At the end of the programme,presenter said that she would be ready in 2011!!
    I notice the programme was allegedly made in 2010…this year
    I am even more confused now.

  12. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    To misquote Mandy Rice Davies – Well, they would say that, wouldn't they…

    I don't get the History Channel – so, v. frustrated by reading about it but not actually able to see it, I can't really comment. So I will.

    Were there any shots of the restoration in the sun? We have had no sun for so long, that unless the footage is grey and snow covered, I'm guessing it's old footage, and an even older ETA.

    When the best even apologist-rag Greenwich Time can manage is "COULD be ready by 2010", alarm bells ring for me.

  13. The Greenwich Phantom says:

    Sorry – of course that should read "COULD be ready by 2012" 2010 is, of course, impossible.

  14. richard says:

    There is something very wrong when the CS website isnt informing public of the ongoing restoration.Dont think it has been updated for months.
    It still says Re-opening 2011!
    I am becoming dissatisfied about the whole thing and am wondering whether my donation to the project has dissappeared into thin air.
    Someone must investigate this uncertainty and get to the bottom of it.