Families united on Dumbarton's famous ship
THE proud descendants of the men behind Dumbarton's most famous ship, the Cutty Sark, have united for the first time to mark its £25million refurbishment.
Over 150 people from 19 families of the Sark's former crew and key players - including designer Hercules Linton - met on board the celebrated clipper where it is docked in Greenwich.
The only surviving children of a crew member - siblings Frank Dixon, 77, and Elizabeth Willbourn, 80 - were among those who met for the first time on board the historic ship.
Their father was apprentice and third mate between 1885-1889, while branches of families who had never met were also introduced.
The world's last surviving tea clipper, the Dumbarton-built ship was almost lost following a devastating blaze in 2007.
But following an extensive conservation project, the historic ship opened to visitors last month for the first time since 2006.
Built at the town's Scott & Linton yard, she was completed by the Denny Brothers before her launch in 1869.
During her many trips around the world she carried cargo ranging from the finest teas to gunpowder and from whisky to buffalo horns.
As part of the celebrations HSBC, a partner in the Cutty Sark Trust, organised the special event.
Giles Morgan, group head of sponsorship and events at HSBC, told the Reporter: "Cutty Sark is undoubtedly an emblem of Britain's heritage as a pioneer of global trade and HSBC is proud to have brought together the descendants of those who played such key roles in her colourful history.
"As a business we pride ourselves on connecting our customers across the globe in much the same way Cutty Sark did when she was operational.
"Being able to play a role in connecting her living descendants with their fascinating past is something we're honoured to be involved with."
Other notable families include the Cutty's former owners Wilfred Harry Dowman and Catharine Courtauld and past masters of the ship Captain George Moodie and Captain Richard Woodget.
"The event was also attended by Barbara and Elizabeth Dale, whose grandfather Alban Chittenden performed one of the greatest feats of seamanship ever recorded, when as captain of the Merchant Navy ship SS Duendes in World War I, he successfully outmanoeuvred a German U-boat for several hours.
Descendants from as far afield as Canada, including Grace Northcott, granddaughter of apprentice Charles Sankey, who witnessed murder, mutiny and the captain's suicide on the ship's most notorious voyage were also traced and invited to the event.
They had the opportunity to meet fellow descendants, tour the ship and regale each other with tales of memories of those connected with the ship's rich and colourful history.
Richard Doughty, chief executive of the Cutty Sark Trust, added: "Cutty Sark has touched the hearts of many individuals throughout the world which is why restoring her to her present glory was so important to us.
"It is amazing to see so many people whose lives have been directly influenced by her come together on board Cutty Sark.
"We've uncovered some incredible stories and artefacts along the way.
"These have only added to our understanding of what working on the ship must have been like and the impact this had on the loved ones of those who sailed on her many epic voyages."
This article appeared in Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter 29 May 12
Dumbarton & Vale of Leven Reporter Poll
Are you prepared for another onslaught of snow?
This Poll is now closed.