One of London's most famous tourist attractions, the tea clipper Cutty Sark, has been devastated in a fire this morning. Firefighters are still putting out the flames and believe that the fire was started deliberately.
Since October 2006, the Cutty Sark has been undergoing an extensive programme of conservation to treat corrosion of the metal parts and restore unsound structural timbers. A large proportion of original timbers from the ship had been removed for conservation and so escaped damage in this morning's fire. Early reports suggest that, although the losses will be severe, it may also be possible to rescue some of the timbers from the fire.
The ship has been visited by more than 15 million people in dry docks in Greenwich since her restoration and public opening in 1957, becoming a well known London landmark. According to the Cutty Sark Society, which manages the ship, the Cutty Sark is historically significant because "she is the world's sole surviving extreme clipper, a type of vessel that was the highest development of the fast commercial sailing ship, with the majority of her hull fabric surviving from her original construction".
Fire rips through the Cutty Sark -- BBC News
Fire devastates Cutty Sark -- Guardian online
Cutty Sark Society website