The weather forecast is dire, but a bit of pomp and ceremony will come to Greenwich today when the Queen reopens the new-look Cutty Sark. Some will grovel, others will grumble, but the arrival of the head of state is a big and appropriate honour for what has been a fantastic restoration job.
There was a press day yesterday for the Cutty Sark, and the BBC’s report predictably went on (and on) about the 2007 fire, even though most of the ship’s valuable features were already in storage off site. But the old girl was in a bad old state before that. Even before it was taken apart for restoration works, it was an underwhelming attraction – graceful from the outside, crumbling and staid on the inside.
But the new displays have been created with care and imagination, and lifting the ship up has proved to be a masterstroke – the dingy old dry dock has now been opened up to allow us access beneath the ship, giving us new angles to view what is already a spectacular sight from.
I looked around on Saturday, on the residents’ open day, as workers beavered away to get the last bits in place. There’s still plenty of questions to be asked; about how the restoration was handled; what we get back for the millions of pounds Greenwich Council has thrown at the project (councillors were able to skip the queues for the oversubscribed open day); the pier (again); and the ugly access tower on the Naval College side of the ship.
But those are for another time. Congratulations to those involved in the Cutty Sark’s rebirth – despite the weather, I think Mrs Queen will enjoy her day. At least it’ll be dry below deck now…
Oh, and for those who’ve had a belly-full of royal borough nonsense (if you haven’t now, you will have by tonight), here’s some suitable souvenirs, on sale in Joy on Nelson Road.
You can see the cards right now – and the Cutty Sark opens for business on Thursday.