Page last updated at 13:40 GMT, Thursday, 4 February 2010

Mayor and PM reveal Cutty Sark restoration delay

Cutty Sark on fire
The Cutty Sark was all but destroyed in the 2009 fire

Gordon Brown and Boris Johnson have announced the Cutty Sark will be restored by 2012 - two years later than first promised.

The Prime Minister and Mayor of London made the joint statement on Thursday.

The Cutty Sark Trust said work has been delayed because its frame had corroded more than first thought.

After the ship burned in 2007 it was promised it would reopen this year. Last October that was delayed again until the spring of 2011.

Mr Johnson said: "I am thrilled that the restoration is progressing with speed since the fire in 2007."

Mr Brown said: "Everyone was shocked and saddened as we watched those terrible images of fire on the news.

"Today's announcement means the historic clipper will be open in time for the Olympics."

Tea race

A £3m tranche of funding has now been provided by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport in an attempt to accelerate the ship's restoration.

As one of the last tea clippers to be built, the ship was made for intensely competitive races from China, with huge profits to the first ship to bring tea back to London.

But as clippers lost out in the tea trade to steamers, the Cutty Sark began to transport wool from Australia.

In 1954, after being restored to its original appearance, it was moved to a custom-built dry-dock at Greenwich, and became a popular tourist attraction.

After years of lobbying for its full restoration, it was awarded grants of £25m and was closed in November 2006 so work could begin.

But a fire, sparked by an industrial vacuum cleaner, raged through the ship on 21 May 2007.

When repair and restoration work is complete, The Cutty Sark Trust plans to unveil it as it would have looked in 1872.

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