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Aunt Agony

The Days of the Tea Clipper

During the middle of the nineteenth century, tea was so popular the world over that companies raced each other to deliver the goods. Stream-lined ships were built with many sails to speed them along.

One such ‘Tea Clipper’ was the Cutty Sark, which still exists today and is moored in London in a dry dock and not going very fast at all. Having said that, the ship is a museum now and museums are not supposed to move, I can tell that from ours. However, our designer chappie often wishes it could move so "we could take it to the public instead of trying to get the buggers to come to us", as he says.

Returning to the subject of tea clipper and the Cutty Sark, wouldn't it be really creative of them to fill the dry dock with Darjeeling, then they'd have a floating museum that really meant something!

London was the home of the Tea Exchange when clippers were around and every year these tall ships, with far too many sails in my opinion, would race from the far East to the Tea Exchange to try to be first in bringing their cargo to auction. These races with wind and sail were exciting, but by the 1870's steamships began to replace the clippers. I wonder if they got the idea while boiling the kettle.

Tea clipper 1 Tea clipper 1
Tea clipper 1

Tea clipper 1

All the pictures above are of the Cutty Sark, built in 1869. She was one of the last of the tea clippers and the only classic clipper still surviving and now preserved in dry dock at Greenwich . The mast head of this ship is a statue of a witch who is wearing a traditional Scottish undergarment called a 'Cutty Sark', from which the ship gets its name. A 'cutty sark' is basically 18th century Scots for: 'short shift' or 'short shirt'. The object of this ship was certainly to 'cut short' the time spent sailing from the East.

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