FACTBOX-The Cutty Sark

LONDON - The Cutty Sark, the world’s last surviving 19th century tea clipper, was severely damaged in a blaze on Monday.

Here are some key facts on the ship.

* The Cutty Sark is the most famous tea clipper built and the only one to survive.

* Most of her hull fabric had survived from the original construction.

* The ship was launched at Dumbarton on the River Clyde, Scotland, in 1869. The name comes from Robert Burns’ poem, Tam O’Shanter; Tam meets a group of witches, most of whom are ugly, but for Nannie, who is young and beautiful and is described as wearing only a “cutty sark”, or a short chemise or shirt.

* The ship’s figurehead is a representation of this witch.

* Her maiden voyage was in February 1870. The Cutty Sark left London bound for Shanghai, via the Cape of Good Hope. Commanded by Captain George Moodie, she carried “large amounts of wine, spirits and beer. Her last cargo of tea was carried in 1877.

* From 1885 to 1895, she was used in the wool trade with Australia, bringing the new season’s clip from Sydney to London, setting new speed records year after year.

* By 1895, she was losing money and was sold to the Portuguese as the “Ferreira”, although her crews called her “Pequina Camisola” (‘little shirt’). She was worked by her new owners between Oporto, Rio, and Lisbon until 1920, when she was sold again, this time becoming the “Maria do Amparo”.

* In 1922 she underwent a refit in the Surrey Docks, London, and was driven to shelter from a storm in Falmouth harbour on her way home. A Captain Wilfred Dowman saw her there, and bought her from the Portuguese owners, returning her to British ownership again.

* After World War Two she again became surplus and was eventually towed to Greenwich and placed in a specially constructed dry dock in 1954.

* After much restoration work she was opened to the public in 1957. Since then more than 13 million people have visited her.

Sources: Reuters/