The Queen comes to Greenwich

I took the day off work today to see The Queen and The Duke of Edinburgh officially open the Cutty Sark. The other half and I aren’t Royalists in any kind of nutty sense, but we do have a soft spot for the Royal family and this was too good an opportunity to miss.

Approaching the Cutty Sark through the Old Royal Naval College, the barriers were there for the procession a few hours later.

Reports on Twitter that grass spoilt by the Les Miserables filming was to be spray painted green was true…

Spots were designated for the local Primary schools to come and cheer the procession.

I still don’t know why these poor people were attached to the rigging for the whole morning.

Bit wet.

I bet these were The Queen’s bodyguards. The one in uniform was on stage with The Queen.

A good turn out for a horrible day. The stage was there for the inaugural performance of Diamond Greenwich.





The closest I got to the stage where the speeches and presentations were done!

But then they came down the path towards us and I took this! Yay!!! It was well worth the wait! :).


View from the junction of King William Walk and Romney Road.

We were feeling cold and miserable after all the rain so headed to the Trafalgar Cafe for breakfast before going home. We went back via the Naval College and saw the King’s Troop passing through College Way as part of the royal visit.

I think the first three photos might not be of the King’s Troop as they walked instead of riding. Can anyone enlighten me?







I love that our lovely power station gets in all the shots!








We didn’t stay about for The Queen’s procession through College Way or for her visit to the National Maritime Museum but more photos and details about the royal visit can be found here:

Long to Rain Over Us – Crowds Brave Weather for Queen’s Visit, Greenwich.co.uk

Cutty Sark: Queen Reopens Greenwich Tea Clipper, BBC News

In Pictures: Queen Reopens Restored Cutty Sark, BBC News

Queen Officially Re-opens Cutty Sark, BBC News

The Queen’s Rain, The Greenwich Phantom

The museum also has some wonderful photos from 1937 when The Queen visited aged eleven!

Opening of the National Maritime Museum, 1937

A lovely day was had by all and the reward of a Trafalgar Cafe Full English Breakfast made the day even better!

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Vikings, Martyrdom and a Tea Clipper

Yesterday was a pretty awesome day to be a Greenwich tax payer as the council and the folks behind the Cutty Sark had decided we would get a free trip on the refurbished tea clipper. It isn’t even open yet, and we even beat Her Majesty The Queen!

I booked tickets for 4pm, and with some time to kill before then we decided to go to the church of St Alfege as they are celebrating the murder of Ælfheah of Canterbury who was captured and martyred by marauding Vikings in 1012.

Being agnostic I wasn’t so bothered about how wonderful it was that St Alfege died because he wouldn’t let his mates pay a ransom to the Vikings to secure his release, but we did get an awesome church built on the spot where he died instead.

Thanks to the church and Regia Anglorum we also got an 11th century Anglo Saxon village for the week and I took some photos of this fantastic re-enactment .

Also, if you are in Greenwich on Christmas Eve, the church choir perform on their own shortly before the midnight mass. They are amazing. Stunning singers.

Men being manly with axes.

Loom weaving.

Women chatting. Nothing ever changes.

Thread making? Or the earliest form of a friendship bracelet?

Embroidery.

Oh no! The Vikings are back! Quick! Hide the babies!



Beautiful ship #1.

Making flour? Looks a lot like the process still used in Morocco to make Argan oil

Harp playing too! 🙂

After that wonderful experience, I walked round the corner of my local area to see stunning ship #2!

So, the Cutty Sark. A major landmark in Greenwich, engulfed by fire in 2007, fastest tea clipper in the west, cost £50 million to refurbish yadda yadda yadda. But what did it feel like to go into the new building?

AMAZING. FRIGGING AMAZING*.

It is beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I felt quite emotional as I slowly walked along the gangway that takes you into the ship itself. I stared up at the gorgeous plating on the hull and was in awe. Amazing.



Stern and rudder

“Composite construction, a wooden hull on an iron frame”



Replica tea chests hung from the ceiling and tea chest patterns were marked on the floor of the lower hold.

Video screens depicting the tea trade were lined up on both sides of the lower hold.

A large wall covered in material and rows of seating made up the Michael Edwards Studio Theatre. A video showing the Cutty Sark’s routes round the world was projected onto the wall.

The inside of the hull bathed in green.

Upstairs is the ‘tween deck which focused on the crew of the Cutty Sark, and the wool and whisky trades. There was also a interactive video display where people could steer the Cutty Sark home from Australia. I sadly ran the ship aground in Antarctica!

Video projected onto the side of a bale, I thought this was a really great way of displaying content.



Above the ‘tween deck is the main deck where you get to see the top half of the ship in its full glory. There aren’t any exhibitions to see here but exploring the deck, seeing the views, the masts and the 11 miles of rigging is more than enough to keep you enthralled.

Best weather ever.

I doubt this beautiful view would have been possible without the 3 metre raising of the ship.



Gorgeous.



View towards St Alfege showing the blue sea the ship floats on.

After the main deck you take the stairs or lift down to the Sammy Ofer Gallery where you can see the rest of the hull. Unlike the SS Great Britain in Bristol, the sealed off hull area isn’t humid or uncomfortable and is instead light, spacious and airy.

Stern and rudder from below


The gleaming belly.

Wonderfully, the concrete sides from the previous dry dock haven’t been covered up and you can see the differences between the 1950s refurbishment and now.

This practice has been maintained throughout as the new metalwork added to the ship, to make it structurally sound, has been painted grey and the original metalwork has been painted white.







At the stern of the ship is a wonderful 19th Century figurehead collection, children will love it. The white figurehead is Nannie Dee, an figurehead that used to be on the front of the ship… I think.

I do like the sea of glass, the reflections are lovely.

Lots of space and the cafe feels quite unobtrusive from this end of the gallery.

We had to have a cup of ship’s tea, or Twinings tea to be accurate. 🙂

I didn’t get the shot quite right but I tried!

I absolutely love history and having a slice of shipping history fifteen minutes walk from my home is just wonderful. I haven’t been to the ship before and I can only imagine how awful it was for locals when it was burning back in 2007.

I have been to a number of modern museums and comparing it to the Museum of London at Docklands I can only say it is just as good. Both make me want to go back again and again. And once all the exhibits and activities are finished the museum will be even better.

It is a shame entry is £12 when The Queen’s House and the National Maritime Museum are free but the Observatory is not free, so hey ho, some things are worth paying for.

A day later I still feel really happy and excited to have gone and a second trip is a must. Greenwich is such a lovely place to live.

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More photos from the day can be found here.

*These happened to be the words I used to describe how I felt when I briefly chatted to Richard Doughty. Poor man. I made a bee line for him as soon as I recognised him off the telly!

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Caird Library at Royal Museums Greenwich

Like the Deptford Dame I was invited to a bloggers preview of the re-opening of the National Maritime Museum’s Caird Library last Saturday.

The Caird Library used to be housed in the main part of the museum, but with the building of the Sammy Ofer wing the opportunity was taken to move and extend the library into a new space. Caird Library staff can now keep a significantly larger percentage of the 2,000,000 item collection on-site, and items can be retrieved from storage within forty minutes.

Along with The Queen’s House and the Royal Observatory Greenwich, the museum is in the process of rebranding itself as part of Royal Museums Greenwich to tie in with the Queen’s decision to make Greenwich a Royal Borough as part of her Jubilee celebrations.

This event was an opportunity to promote the new wing, the free facilities available at the Caird Library and to show how the three museums are trying to have closer ties with the local community and those interested in Naval history.


I went along with my Twitter pal @mtcrowe as the RMG’s Digital Marketing Officer Emma McLean was happy for us all to bring a plus one to help us spread the word. After an introduction by Emma, Eleanor Gawne, Head of Archive and Library, gave us a talk about the development of the new facility, and with her Caird Library colleagues, a tour in small groups of the new storage spaces.

Unfortunately for us bloggers and photographers, photos were not allowed of the storage areas. However we were told that the storage areas have 9km of shelving spread over two and a half floors. They also feature those really cool rolling racks that you see at universities and wonder if anyone has ever gotten squished in. 😀


After the formal bit we were given plenty of time to have a nose around the new facilities and to look through items the Caird Library team had prepared for us from a list given to us with the invitation.

As you can see from the PDF many of the items listed have information and photos about them listed on the Caird Libray’s site, very useful for research purposes if you can’t come to the library yourself, and also useful in deciding what to ask the team to retrieve from storage.

Below is one of the items I requested to see and as I love maps this was a delight. The maps shows the course of the river from London to the sea.


River Thames printed chart by Richard Stanier dated 1790 ( G218:8/1) includes both the River Thames and the Thames Estuary, with cartouche


Books detailing the sinking of the Royal George whilst anchored off Portsmouth, the ship was built down the road at Woolwich.




An Account of the Loss of the ‘Royal George’ at Spithead, August, 1782… the 27 books that make up this collection are bound in wood taken from the wreck


Medical textbook owned by Captain Bligh, cited as particularly interesting due to its provenance. I had never heard of the term before but take great delight in understanding it now, I aim to use it in conversation to impress in the future. Tee hee.




Captain Bligh’s copy of William Buchan,’ Domestic Medicine: or a Treatise on the prevention and cure of diseases by Regimen and simple medicines with an appendix, containing a dispensatory for the use of private practitioners’ (London, 1779, 6th edition (PBD6069). Originally the property of Captain Bligh and subsequently in the possession of Fletcher Christian and the mutineers on the Pitcairn Islands


As mentioned above, you can access the Caird Library’s content for free, including log books, Admirality records, certificates of competence, letters, diaries, crew lists, business records (including the P&O archive), charts and maps. You can also read the 200 journals they subscribe to, and use their computer stations to access online journals and resources. Photocopying and scanning facilities are available, and content can be saved to USB stick to take home.

Another interesting feature is the hundreds of ship plans that can be accessed using a large touch-screen computer. These plans have been painstakingly scanned in and the staff are aiming to slowly scan in all of the 1,000,000 they have in storage over a number of years. The most famous of ships have had their plans scanned in first, so contact the library to see if your favourite is available.


This is the first local event I have been invited to through my blogging endeavours and having not visited the museum before, oops, it was an excellent event to have been invited to. I hope the RMG carries on with these kind of events as any kind of free public outreach event is an excellent way to encourage people to do something they wouldn’t have done before.

I also had the opportunity to talk to an astronomer from the Observatory and to promote the astrophysics talk my Dad does around the country. Hooray! It is a little dream of mine that one day my Dad will speak at the Observatory round the corner from my house. We also used to visit the park and the Observatory when I was young as we are from the area.


Here are some links to other blogs from this event:

Bloggers Preview of New Library, Caird Library blog

The Caird Library at the National Maritime Museum, Deptford Dame

The Holy Grail of Nautical Books, Night of Bones

The Old Order Changeth, Gentlemen and Tarpaulins

Nerding Out at the Maritime Museum, Ice Floe

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