Cutty Sark refit 'damaging', says The Victorian Society

The restoration of the Cutty Sark has been described as "damaging" by a national heritage group.

The criticism was made as the famous Greenwich clipper was awarded the Carbuncle Cup by a building design website.

However, the Cutty Sark Trust has said visitors have been "blown away" by the restoration.

The ship reopened to the public in April after a £50m refit following a devastating fire in 2007.

The Victorian Society's new director Chris Costelloe claimed the restoration pandered to the "corporate hospitality market".

'Misguided attempt'

He said: "It's a pity that commercial motives were placed above heritage interests.

"The new design has obscured the Cutty Sark's distinctive shape at the quayside. Even the part of the ship we can still see includes an obtrusive lift tower looming over the deck.

"Restoring heritage buildings for the 21st century doesn't have to mean misguided attempts to fit the corporate hospitality market."

The clipper, built in 1869, has a new design which allows visitors to move both aboard and underneath the three-masted sailing ship where visitors can learn about its history in an interactive museum.

Cutty Sark Trust's director Richard Doughty said his team was immensely proud of what it had achieved with the clipper and that the Victorian Society had been consulted, along with many other organisations, prior to the restoration.

He said: "The Victorian Society's director is new and I doubt he has even been to see it. The Victorian Society was very supportive of what we were doing when we consulted them.

"It has got a wow factor and all our exit surveys with visitors show the vast majority of the public has been mesmerised and would recommend it to friends and family."

'Calamitous choice'

The ship has been awarded the Carbuncle Cup, by Building Design Online, and described as "wrongheaded" by the site's executive editor and design critic Ellis Woodman.

Image caption The Cutty Sark was restored after being badly damaged by fire in 2007

He said of the restoration in an article on his website: "It has worked with the best of intentions and yet has tragically succeeded in defiling the very thing it set out to save.

"The scheme's myriad failings stem from one calamitous choice: the decision to hoick the 154-year-old clipper close to three metres into the air on canted steel props.

"From street level, the once thrilling lines of the ship's stern and prow have now been obscured behind the new glass enclosure."

Mr Doughty said it was not natural for a ship to sit on its keel and because it was so badly corroded a solution had to be found to ensure future generations could enjoy her.

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