Page last updated at 11:44 GMT, Thursday, 21 May 2009 12:44 UK

Cutty Sark to reopen next year

Workmen at the Cutty Sark
The ship's planks will be replaced in the next month

Restoration work on the famous 19th Century ship Cutty Sark will be finished in time for it to be reopened to the public next year.

Two years after a fire caused damage estimated at £10m to the historic ship, based in Greenwich, south-east London, the restoration effort is continuing.

All the planks on the ship have been removed to be restored, leaving only the vessel's iron frame remaining.

The fire on 21 May 2007 burned through the ship's three decks.

The Cutty Sark Trust said the ship was due to reopen in summer 2010.

Cutty Sark 'to reopen next year'

Curator Jessica Beverly, from the Cutty Sark Trust, said: "The ship is not very pretty at the moment as all the planks are being treated.

"The planks will start being put back in the next month. They will be painted with special paint to prevent further corrosion."

Before the blaze the ship was undergoing conservation work because sea salt had accelerated corrosion of her iron framework.

The fire damage raised the total cost of the ongoing restoration by £10m to £35m.

Workmen at the Cutty Sark
The ship is due to reopen in summer 2010

A major part of the restoration will see the ship being suspended 9.8ft (3m) above the bottom of her dry berth.

The space below the ship will be turned into a gallery so that visitors can see the shape of the ship's hull.

The fire damage in 2007 could have been far worse if the ship's masts, deckhouses and saloon, along with half of its planking, had not already been taken to a dockyard in Kent for conservation or storage.

After the restoration the 140-year-old tea clipper will have more than 90% of her original features.

Last September a police investigation revealed the fire was sparked by an industrial vacuum cleaner that had been left switched on for two days before the blaze.

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