Explore the Cutty Sark in new immersive virtual reality (VR) experience

The Cutty Sark, one of the world’s most famous ships, has been recreated in virtual reality by experts at the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Smartify.

The Cutty Sark is a British clipper ship, listed by National Historic Ships as part of the National Historic Fleet, and is one of only three surviving original composite construction (wooden hull on an iron frame) clipper ships from the 19th century.

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She was launched in 1869 for the Jock Willis Shipping Line to serve as a tea clipper on the trade routes between Europe and the East Indies.

Under the command of Captain George Moodie, the inaugural roundtrip voyage commenced on February 16, 1870, departing from London laden with wine, spirits, and beer destined for Shanghai. The return leg, transporting 1,305,812 pounds (592,306 kg) of tea from Shanghai, embarked on June 25, ultimately reaching London via the Cape of Good Hope on October 13.

“She was built for me. I superintended the building and fitting of her, and I never sailed a finer ship. At ten or twelve knots she did not disturb the water at all. Although she was a very sharp ship, just like a yacht, her spread of canvas was enormous, … She was the fastest ship of her day, a grand ship, a ship that will last forever,” said Captain George Moodie.

On behalf of the Royal Museums Greenwich, experts from the University of the West of Scotland (UWS) and Smartify have conducted a survey of the Cutty Sark using state-of-the-art 360 photos, 3D scanning, and drone photography.

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This has enabled the team to accurately replicate the ship digitally in 3D and develop a virtual reality (VR) experience now available for the public to explore.

Dr Marco Gilardi, Lead of the UWS Creative Computing Technologies Research Group in the School of Computing Engineering and Physical Sciences, and PI for the project, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have been able to apply our research and expertise to bring Cutty Sark to life through VR and state of the art ‘immersive web’ technologies, allowing members of the public to explore this world-famous ship in a unique way.”

The virtual tour is available to access here:

Header Image Credit : University of the West of Scotland

Sources : University of the West of Scotland

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Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan
Mark Milligan is multi-award-winning journalist and the Managing Editor at HeritageDaily. His background is in archaeology and computer science, having written over 8,000 articles across several online publications. Mark is a member of the Association of British Science Writers (ABSW), the World Federation of Science Journalists, and in 2023 was the recipient of the British Citizen Award for Education, the BCA Medal of Honour, and the UK Prime Minister's Points of Light Award.

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