Cutty Sark blaze fears – 21 May 2007

Visit London has called for renewed efforts to conserve part of the capital’s heritage following a devastating fire on board the Cutty Sark early this morning.

Greenwich town centre in south-east London was closed and nearby residents evacuated after the fire took hold on the 19th century ship. Police are treating the cause of the blaze as suspicious.

Visit London, the capital’s official visitor organisation, said Maritime Greenwich, which includes the Maritime Museum as well as Cutty Sark, was at the heart of London’s attractions for tourists and needed to be maintained for the future. It attracted 155,000 tourists last year.

Fortunately around half of the ship, including the masts, had been removed prior to the fire as part of the ongoing £25 million restoration project but there are fears that some of the decks could be unsalvageable.

Visit London chief executive James Bidwell said: “The Cutty Sark has been an important part of Greenwich history for many years. It’s an icon of our city, as well as a symbol of the river Thames as a visitor destination.

“The ship’s need for vital conservation has put it in the public eye recently and we can only hope that this terrible fire will redouble all our efforts to preserve this wonderful part of London’s heritage.”

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