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How Did They do That?

The super-fast tea clipper was once the speediest ship on the high seas
ILLUSTRATION: SOL 90, ALAMY X3

THE CUTTY SARK

Built in the shipbuilding heartland of the Clyde in 1869, at a cost of £16,150, the Cutty Sark was one of the last wind-powered tea clippers. It operated under the British flag, in dedicated service to the tea and wool trades, until being sold to a Portuguese cargo company in 1895, whereupon it was renamed the Ferreira.

These extremely fast clippers were able to cover long distances without the need of getting to port to reload coal. However, the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 shortened trade routes and made them lose their advantage over steam ships. In 1922, the Cutty Sark returned to Britain to become a training ship and is today put on public show in dry dock in Greenwich.

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

The May 2016 issue of History Revealed