Archive for the ‘Cutty sark restoration’ Category

Cutty Carbuncle

Friday, September 14th, 2012

Thank you to everyone who sent me the link to Andrew Gilligan’s column about the Cutty Sark winning Building Design Magazine‘s coveted Carbuncle Cup for this year’s Worst New Building in Britain, beating off stiff competition from the ArcelorMittal Orbit (a construction even its designer hates) and the Titanic Museum in Belfast.

They point to the ghastly glass lifts and viewing pods ‘punched’ through the hull, the still-worrying decision to raise the ship on stilts so they can put a corporate function suite below and the bog-awful lift-tower outside, none of which I can argue with.

There’s no doubting that this has ended up as a Disney version of the old ship and it is a bit of a shock if you’re not expecting it.

There are myriad ways that they could have done it better.

Call me old fashioned but frankly I’ve always thought that just restoring her as best as possible to what she would have looked like when she was launched, without all the clumsy modern parapehnalia (especially in that lift tower – I find it hard to imagine how anyone could make glass look clumsy but somehow they’ve managed it…) I’ve not visited the SS Great Britain’s restoration yet, but that’s the sort of thing I was hoping to see on the Cutty Sark (and that was in a much worse condition – my Dad, when he was a kid, lived down the road from the bloke who cut a massive hole in the iron hold so he could use it as a sheep-pen and they’ve even managed to deal with that).

But in some respects I’m just glad to have her back – after that fire (a criminal piece of negligence on the part of  someone, who doesn’t appear to have ever been even ticked off) I honestly thought she’d just be carted away, like the Gipsy Moth – the other ship we couldn’t be trusted to look after. She may not last long on those stilts but we do have her for a little while yet.

I have to disagree with Gilligan on one thing though – call me a silly, shallow, fluffy Phantom but I adore those fairy lights; they make me smile every time I see her all lit up. And however much I hate the idea of her being hoisted up on poles, this view is rather good:


Name That Pirate!

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

Okay, okay, I know he’s supposed to be a ‘crew member’ – but this rather random chap stuck halfway up the Cutty Sark’s masts looks just like a pirate to me. I’m not sure if he’s going to get a friend or whether he’s just on his own up there, but he’s certainly odd. Feels a bit like a 1980s ‘museum-experience,’ putting mannequins around the ship, but I think I like him.

Poor guy doesn’t seem to have a name though. Any suggestions? No coming over all Captain Pugwash, now (fnaar) – keep ‘em clean, eh…

I’m a Leaning Lamp Post…

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

…on the corner of the street…

Good to see the Cutty Sark Gardens actually getting – well, gardens in them. Jeremy’s pic clearly shows some grass, albeit locked away behind some pretty ugly railings. Perhaps it will help to soften a traditionally bleak area.

What is it with leaning lamp posts these days, though? They seem to be cropping up all over the place; it’s clearly the trendy thing. Some of them look more deliberately wonky than others – there’s one in my head that I can see but not place (I’m thinking Russia Dock, but my mind’s fuzzy this morning…) that looks like a pair of drunk park attendants played dodgems with litter-pickers through the place one lost weekend to impress a girl. These at least look like they were always meant to lean.

Is it just to be a bit funky or is there a purpose? I would have thought it would be some way of preventing light pollution (which would be fantastic) except that these look far too high up to really save much in the way of light-spillage.

I guess since they’re all set at the same angle they will at least look like they haven’t been boffed by the trucks that delivered them and I don’t really have an opinion about them – but I do hope we’ll eventually be able to see some grass in Cutty Sark Gardens that isn’t kept behind bars.

Meanwhile, in other news, good to see the foot tunnel all sparkling and clean again after all those months of closure and millions spent on it:

It reminds me a bit of the Northern Line at Tottenham Court Road – shiny new station above (we presume), filthy old tunnel below. Not a mop or a bucket of Flash in sight. Thanks to ‘Shaw Taylor’ for these pics, including the tag of the charming ‘Stinkabell 2012…’

Ah, well. Perhaps the new entrance with their driverless elevators (would Stinkabell have been quite so happy to scrawl if he/she knew he/she was being watched by a human, I wonder?) will shine like beacons instead. Oh – and anyone who hates those chain restaurant signs right in the middle of the view from Island Gardens – 35 objections, guys…

Cutty Sark to Re-Open

Friday, March 2nd, 2012

According to Rob at the Cutty Sark will be re-opening on 26th April 2012.

Shame they’re not opening it for the Marathon (four days earlier) but hey – it’s coming.

The prices will be, apparently (I’m getting this off Rob as the Trust don’t seem to like me, though hey, I guess I can see why…) £12 for adult. Children 5-15, £6.50. Kids under 5 go free.

At those prices I’m really hoping they do some sort of membership scheme as I have a whole bunch of friends who will suddenly want to visit Phantom Towers and ‘well, since we’re here…’ nip over to see the old girl in her fancy new duds.

Thanks to Rod for the pics of the main mast being topped out last week…

Are We Feeling Christmassy Yet?

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

Well – we should be.

Robert ‘Kris Kringle’ was as good as his word, kindly stumping up the cash for a tree atop the Cutty Sark this year, Jim ‘ and his mates ‘rigging the Cutty Sark were as good as their word, in erecting said tree at the tippy-top of the mast, and Stephen was as good as his word providing photographic evidence of how it was done…

Apparently the tree was more difficult to put up than the masts themselves. Stephen says that the first attempt, around 2.30pm, had to be abandoned because the tree managed to tangle itself up.

Perhaps it was the wind – Stephen reckons it’s cold enough to freeze the traditional balls off the brass monkey.

But by 3.05pm Jim and Co. decided to have another bash



in twenty minutes

it was being lashed to the Mizzen.

And there we have it.

Isn’t Greenwich great?

Cutty Sark Christmas Tree

Tuesday, December 13th, 2011

Sometimes you really do get what you wish for. There we were musing about the possibility of getting a Christmas  tree at the top of the Cutty Sark’s mast – with Robert Gray, Greenwich’s very own Kris Kringle, even offering to pay for it – and what do you know  - I get an email from Jim and the guys at TS Rigging Ltd (who are putting up all the masts and rigging over the next few months) this afternoon agreeing to organise it!

So – thanks to Jim & Co, and, of course, Number 16′s illustrious resident, there’s a fir up the old girl’s nightie once more. May it be the first of many…

Jim and the lads will be putting the tree up on Thursday. Sadly I’ll be away but if anyone gets a pic, I’d love to see it…

Thanks to Darren we now have a pic of the old tree…

The Cutty Sark Re-Mast-ered

Monday, December 12th, 2011

It’s finally getting exciting. The Cutty Sark got her masts back on Saturday and from the number of emails I got, I guess most of us were there to see it. Even though there wasn’t much in the way of warning, it seems half the UK was Christmas shopping in Greenwich Market that day. I’m glad I walked in via the river or I might have missed it.

Darren even admitted to ‘a bit of a watery eye when we saw them,’ and I know what he means.

The whole thing took some time (of course). Stephen was there about 1.00pm. The masts arrived on giant trucks labelled convoi exceptionnel’ (you’re darn tootin’) and managed to get most of the pics on this post.

It was quite heart-in mouth stuff and I’m sure I wasn’t the only Phantom wondering just how the bloomin’ heck they did it the first time round, before gigantic cranes and fossil fuel. A pal I was with told me it was a series of A-frames but it still looked pretty scary stuff. There were dozens of blokes and a lot of testosterone to do the job (though I did wonder whether the two girls who were there were actually in charge…)

Here’s a shot I took of the third, Mizzen mast just as it was hooked onto the crane:

…though the guys who looked most precarious were right up the top



I didn’t get there until they were erecting the third mast, by which point it was a bit of a race against the dark – just 3.30pm. Another one of my masterpieces (everything else is by Stephen who has a bit better camera than a Fuji Finepix…)

Darren and I are wondering when it would be a good idea to start a campaign to get a Christmas tree in the crow’s nest again, just like they used to…

Cutty Sark, Gardens, Pier and Trees

Tuesday, November 15th, 2011

I’ve had a lot of questions about the pier recently. Mainly of the ‘what’s going on, then,’ variety. This is hardly surprising since no one, including me, seems to know. Stuff is going on; we’re not in the loop. But at least stuff is going on.

Every time I walk past something’s happened – which is a good thing – I am so sick of it being a building site.

The Cutty Sark has a bit more gold frou-frou, a few more panes go on the lean-to greenh0use (at least if they don’t get all the corporate functions they’re after they can grow tomatoes) and the nasty lift shaft gets a little more intrusive. Why the hell did they put it on the same side as the Old Royal Naval College?

Original plans had it disguised as a pile of tea chests waiting on the quayside to be loaded though I understand it’s now going to be glass. It’s hard to know how it will look when it’s finished. Stephen’s shots here make it look quite hard to minimise, but perhaps if they paint the girders a paler shade of grey it will blend into the general grey of the riverscape. Let’s hope.

The pier buildings are also coming on, though it all seems to have slowed down since an initial spurt earlier in the autumn. I guess it’s all going on inside now, so we don’t see it happening.  Next to them, though, we now know what the entrance will look like – a document Richard found shows – well, pretty much what we might have expected – uninspired and football turnstileish, but no better and no worse than other modern TFL constructions. Gone are the days where functional things are designed to be beautiful too, but it is, at least, going to be easy to find, which is not something Greenwich Pier has been for many years.

All in all, I find it all a bit unexciting, but at least things are happening and it should be done soon. They’re promising the Cutty Sark for Easter – so I would imagine that the other projects will be under pressure to finish then too.

The one thing that does puzzle me is the felling of two perfectly healthy plane trees by the Lewin Gate. Presumably it’s assumed patrons of the eaterie in the pier don’t want to look at leaves or maybe it’s to make the entrance clearer. It’s not the end of the world IMHO. Being a Phantom who loves green, I mourn any tree that has to go, it leaves a gap in a handsome perimeter row of planes and feels a bit unnecessary – but  in the scheme of things going on that I’m not wild about, this doesn’t even score.

I just want it all over, please.

Rear Window (23)

Wednesday, October 19th, 2011

Isn’t this a fascinating photo? For all of us who can’t see behind the various hoardings, an aerial shot of – what I calculate to be five separate building jobs – though I may have miscalculated – it could be more, could be fewer.

It’s a shot taken for the forthcoming book Greenwich Then and Now by Barbara Ludlow and Julian Watson, taken by Julian from the window of a kindly upstairs resident of Coltman House and I love it because it’s not a static shot, it’s work in progress.

In the foreground we have the ‘gardens’ themselves – and, from what I have seen of the plans, they are much greener than the area’s been for years, much to the chagrin of English Heritage for whom I usually have a lot of respect but whose desire for an urban dockfront feel at this bleak spot would be as specious as greenery and a hell of a lot less enjoyable when the icy Thames winds blow for the three-quarters of the year that don’t have the sunshine you always get in architects’ plans.

Next to the gardens, on the left, is the interminable Foot Tunnel project which has, frankly, been a bit of a disgrace. I have lost count of the number of cyclists I’ve seen going up to the door, realising the whole bloomin’ thing is shut and, knowing that there’s nothing down at Woolwich either, turning round wearily to peddle their way up to Rotherhithe. This is a public highway – which is why, up to this particular works, it was left open 24 hours a day and if it did close, for filming, for example, (i.e. when someone else had to foot the bill)  it had to have proper provision made. The excuse of the DLR is fine for pedestrians happy to shell out for the ticket but cyclists can whistle. It is, apparently, due to be opened ‘in the new year,’ whatever that means – my bet is ‘in time for the Olympics’ which seems to be the mantra for everything these days.

Behind that, we can just see the entrance to the new pier and, separately but together, the strange skellingtons that will make up the ticket office and the cafe. I’ve heard all sorts of rumours about what’s going to be there – a Zizzi’s, Nandos, Byron (no indies, natch) but in case you can’t read Steve’s photo

it looks as though it’s actually going to be that retail-park blandity Frankie and Benny’s. Sigh.

Steve’s been trying to get the signage sorted out around that area for some time – after ORNC hours it’s quite hard to get through from West to East Greenwich in that part as random paths have been shut off and the ORNC security guys are not to be argued with. He’s discovered that this mess will stay until the whole area opens properly but has been at least promised some signage. Go, Steve.  Let’s hope it’s not like this splendid example of Greenwich Council signage, wrong on so many levels and spotted by Dan:

Which leaves us with the Cuty Sark herself. I don’t want to know what’s gone on with the engineering, what kind of stress those timbers are under or what corners were cut. We were left out of the loop when it mattered and all we’re likely to get now is platitudes if, indeed, they ever decide to actually talk to locals at all. But I have to say she’s looking good. Every time I walk past she seems to have a bit more fluffy frou, a little extra gold, a shininess more of paint. At last she looks like a ship again. Who knows – she might actually be ready for that all-important date.

And all this encapsulated in one photo. I can’t wait for Barbara and Julian’s book (one of several very exciting volumes to be published soon, and not Julian’s only outing.) It’s due at the publishers at the end of the month so we should see it – actually I don’t know how long books take to come out once they’re written so let’s just say ‘soon.’

Cutty Sark Lean-To

Friday, September 9th, 2011

Well, she’s coming on apace, as Stephen’s photo will testify. Not quite the smooth glass bubble we were promised, but we can look on the bright side, knowing that if they ever need some extra cash they can grow some excellent tomatoes under that cold frame…

Giggles aside – I’m just looking forward to it all being over. At least we’re actually seeing some results now.