Cutty Sark is a historic British sailing ship and one of the top visitor attractions in Greenwich, South-East London. Between plenty of hands-on activities and the opportunity to climb aboard the 19th century tea clipper ship, the Cutty Sark ship museum is a great family day out in Greenwich. In this post, learn more about visiting Cutty Sark London with kids and the many activities aboard the ship for families.
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Cutty Sark Ship Museum
Built in 1869 to carry tea back from China for the Jock Willis Shipping Line and considered the speed machine of her time, Cutty Sark is the world’s last remaining tea clipper. Cutty Sark traded tea and then wool for the British until steamships came to dominate the trading routes.
In 1895, Cutty Sark was sold to a Portuguese company (Ferreira and Co.) and continued as a cargo ship before being sold to retired sea captain Wilfred Dowman in 1922 to be used as a training ship operating from Cornwall.
After his death in 1938, Cutty Sark was transferred to the Thames Nautical Training College in Greenhithe to become an auxiliary cadet training ship. In 1954, when she was considered no longer useful for training, the ship was moved to permanent dry dock at Greenwich for public viewing.
Cutty Sark underwent several years of restoration and conservation work, before re-opening to the public in 2012 with a new platform that had the ship lifted by over three meters to allow visitors a unique view from underneath her hull.
Perched on the glass and steel viewing area that resembles a large ocean wave and with her bow pointed directly at Canary Wharf across the Thames River, Cutty Sark is a stunning sight to behold!
Families will enjoy the opportunity to climb aboard the historic ship and learn about her impressive history sailing around the world.
Cutty Sark Activities for Kids
Visiting Cutty Sark London with kids offers a fun learning experience and a unique look into the history of ships and trading. There are many interactive displays throughout the ship museum, with a real effort put into creating immersive activities through discovery and exploring.
Free family trails are available from the admissions desk for your visit to Cutty Sark with kids. The Ship Keeper’s Kit, suitable for ages 5+, are backpacks families can borrow from the welcome desk and use to explore the techniques and skills needed to keep Cutty Sark safe for future visitors.
Find out more about the Family Trails at Cutty Sark
The Lower Hold
The first deck you explore when you enter Cutty Sark is the Lower Hold, which was originally used for ballast, to balance the ship, and storing cargo.
In this part of the ship museum, you can learn about the story of tea, including its production, the loading of ships, the history of tea drinking and the famous tea race.s
The next you visit while touring Cutty Sark is the ‘Tween Deck, where you will find many interactive activities and displays for families. Like the Lower hold, this level was for cargo and storage.
The Tween Deck offers a variety of entertaining activities, exhibits and displays for visitors to learn more about Cutty Sark‘s trading history and life aboard the ship. Hands-on activities for kids include guessing what’s inside various crates using sight, touch and smell.
You can also find out about the crews of Cutty Sark, the food they ate, their hobbies, names and roles.
There are displays where you can learn about Cutty Sarks‘s fastest and most dangerous voyages carrying wool from Sydney. For older kids and adults, there is also a chance to try to beat Captain Woodget’s fastest passage back from Australia with an interactive digital steering game.
Also on this deck is a makeshift ship for little ones to steer a big wheel, pull the ropes for the mast, turn the compass and peer through binoculars…
… as well as this game to level out the ship by moving around the “tea chest” weights.
The ‘Tween Deck is where the Cutty Sark Toddler Time events are held. Little ones can explore this playful environment and learn essential skills such as problem solving and working together. Cutty Sark Toddler Time is on every Wednesday during term-time, from 10am to 11:30am and 1pm to 2:30pm.
Read more details and book a place at Cutty Sark Toddler Time
After the ‘Tween Deck, you will head out to the main deck, where the crew lived and worked. Here you will find the galley (kitchen), carpenter’s workshop, the Master’s Cabin and the crew’s accommodation.
It is amazing to see the work that goes into preserving each detail of the ship. We wandered around the deck, looking up at the mast and rigging towering over us.
There are several deckhouses with the crew’s accommodation to see on the Cutty Sark main deck.
The crews’ accommodation included a display showing the typical contents of a seaman’s chest and some rain gear for the young ones to try on.
And there were a few tools for children to give a helping hand on board Cutty Sark!
The last stop of the Cutty Sark tour is the lower deck to walk underneath the ship for the unique look at the hull and the awe-inspiring structure holding up the 963-ton ship! This gallery also houses a collection of figureheads from different ships.
Cutty Sark has been beautifully conserved and the lower deck viewing platform allows for a unique perspective. The space beneath the ship tells the story of Cutty Sark‘s preservation since the 1950s, including the recent conservation project, the 2007 fire and the naming of the ship.
Food and Drink
You’ll find the Cutty Sark Café on the lower ground deck of the ship underneath the copper hull. Cutty Sark Café serves deli sandwiches, cakes, cream teas, assorted snacks and children’s meals.
Cutty Sark Afternoon Tea is available Thursdays to Sundays from 11am to 3pm. Indulge in a special Afternoon Tea underneath the hull of the iconic clipper, with a selection of teas, sandwiches and sweet treats.
See the sample menu and book the Afternoon Tea at Cutty Sark
What’s On at Cutty Sark for Kids
Cutty Sark regularly organises family activities and events throughout the year. Family activities at Cutty Sark include craft workshops, shanty singing and character actors. The ship museum also runs storytelling and play sessions for toddlers and preschoolers during term time.
Keep an eye on the Cutty Sark Events calendar for more on toddlertime and family fun weekends, along with the latest events and activities for kids during the weekends and school holidays. Here is what’s coming up at the Cutty Sark London for kids;
Meet the Characters of Cutty Sark
Fridays to Mondays during Summer School Holidays
Meet colourful characters from Cutty Sark’s past, and hear astonishing stories about life at sea in the age of sail. Find out more about the characters you could meet on the Cutty Sark website.
Characters include Captain Woodget, Cutty Sark‘s longest serving master, Nannie the figurehead and Jock Willis, the man who built Cutty Sark. Keep an eye out for the characters at 11am, 12pm, 2pm and 3pm.
Greenwich with Kids
Once outside, enjoy a walk along the river taking in the views of Canary Wharf, HMS Belfast and the City of London. For a full family day out in Greenwich, visit the nearby free National Maritime Museum, one of our favourite things to do in Greenwich with kids.
You can also purchase a Combo Ticket to visit both Cutty Sark and the Royal Observatory (and stand on the world-famous Meridian Line) on the same day at a reduced price.
Another highlight in Greenwich is the Painted Hall in Old Royal Naval College, a 4000 square meters space filled with stunning baroque art which is a true hidden gem in London.
In addition to the on-site Evan Keel Café at Cutty Sark, there are plenty of restaurants nearby, including a riverside Nando’s in the front of the ship.
Cutty Sark Greenwich
Cutty Sark Clipper Ship, King William Walk, Greenwich, London SE10 9HT
Opening Hours: Open daily 1000 – 1700. Last entry 1615.
Closest Tube Station: Cutty Sark [DLR]
Closest Rail Stations: The closest rail stations to Cutty Sark are Greenwich and Maze Hill. Direct trains run to these stations from London Cannon Street and London Bridge.
Bus Routes to Cutty Sark: The following buses stop near Cutty Sark: 129, 177, 180, 188, 199 and 386.
Tickets: Adult tickets start from £16; children 4+ tickets start from £8.00. Children under 4 years go free. Membership, special discounts and combination tickets with other Royal Museums Greenwich available for purchase.
Facilities: There is a restroom with a baby changing table just off the Main Deck in front of the elevator and more restrooms and baby changing facilities in the Lower Ground level. If you are bringing a stroller, it is easy to move around the ship with elevator access available on each level.
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