Funding shortfall will leave clipper renovation all at sea
PUBLISHED: 11:26 01 October 2009 | UPDATED: 17:13 25 August 2010
THE renovation of an historic clipper destroyed by fire has been hit by a £3 million shortfall and a nine-month delay, the Times can reveal. Richard Doughty, chief executive of the Cutty Sark Trust, heading up the project to preserve the world s last tea
THE renovation of an historic clipper destroyed by fire has been hit by a £3 million shortfall and a nine-month delay, the Times can reveal.
Richard Doughty, chief executive of the Cutty Sark Trust, heading up the project to preserve the world's last tea clipper in Greenwich has confirmed the massive shortfall in funding.
However, he insisted that preservation of the much-loved heritage site was not under threat amid rumours of in-fighting and cost-cutting.
Speaking exclusively to the Times at the dry dock where the famous ship rests, Mr Doughty said: "When we took apart the densely packed timbers at the stern and bow we discovered the metal frames underneath were more corroded than we expected.
"That has created a delay and a need for expensive surveys and greater strengthening. We've used fabrications to add up to 30 sister frames ready for the wooden planks to go in. The discovery over the summer has created a six to nine month delay, but we are hoping to recover some of that time."
The Cutty Sark became a fixture in Greenwich after it was moved from Greenhithe where it was moored next to HMS Worcester and used as a training vessel for the Royal and Merchant Navies.
But, in May 2007 it was ravaged by fire after a faulty vacuum cleaner exploded and much of the ship's parts were removed to be renovated.
This included planks, rigging and the ship's figurehead - Cutty Sark, a Scottish term for a petticoat worn by Nannie, a beautiful witch in the Robbie Burns' poem Tam O'Shanter.
In addition to public donations, the scheme has received £23 million from the Heritage Lottery Fund (increased from £10 million) and a £3.3 million gift from Israeli shipping magnate Sammy Ofer.
Mr Doughty said: "Delays, surveys and extra strengthening are expensive, so we will be doing additional fundraising to get another £3 million.
"But, this is not going to break the back of the project."
The current workforce has been halved to roughly 32, but he said this is in line with the needs of the scheme, switching from rendering the metal work to installing timber, then installing 13 miles of rigging.
Mr Doughty said: "We have retained the shipwrights, riggers and carpenters for the next stage.
"Throughout the ship we are using the absolute best materials.
"The deck planks, up to 40ft in length are 19th century teak sourced from buildings in India - wood that was in existence when the ship was in its original dock in Dumbarton.
"You cannot fault the materials and the fact that we have trained and employed a large number of local workers.
"The project is going extremely well. It's difficult to say when the ship will open, but it is aimed for completion by the end of 2010, or early 2011.