During the mid-1800’s the Tea Clippers used to race from China back to the UK, with the new season's crop. The Cutty Sark was built for this purpose by Scott and Lindon and launched on 22nd November 1869, at Dumbarton, Scotland.
The Cutty Sark made her maiden voyage in January 1870. Between 1870-1877 she carried mainly tea but was never able to win the tea race. Her most successful year should have been in 1872 when she was leading her great rival, the Thermopylae by 400 miles, but disaster struck and she lost her rudder in a storm. From 1878 she carried coal between Shanghai and Sydney, and wool between Melbourne and New York, but her finest hour came in the regular Australian wool trade to London. Her design and speed were well suited to the rough seas of the Southern Hemisphere and between 1885 – 1895 she was untouchable, even beating her old rival Thermopylae on no less than five occasions.
She was sold to a Portuguese firm and re-named the ‘Ferreira’.She served the next 27 years sailing between Portugal and its colonies. In 1920 she was sold again and re-named the ‘Maria Do Amparo’ and in 1922 she was re-fitted in London. Captain Dowman purchased her, raised the Red Ensign, and she came home again. In 1924 she was restored as a Tea Clipper but was presented by Captain Dowman's widow to the Thames Nautical Training College where she became a training ship. She was moved to Greenwich as an exhibit in 1951.