Members of the Paviors’ Luncheon Club enjoyed a day out to Greenwich on Thursday 7 June. Participants travelled from Central London on the Thames Clipper service, enjoying the fascinating views of docklands from the river on the way. Everyone met up at the Cutty Sark for coffee, prior to enjoying a tour of the vessel.
The Cutty Sark was built in 1869 for the great China tea races of the day. She was one of the last commercial sailing vessels to be built before trade was lost to steam-ships using the Suez Canal. The hull of the vessel has a wrought-iron frame to which is fixed teak planks, and the bottom of the hull is clad on the outside with copper to provide low-resistance and fast sailing. Unfortunately, there was a fire during restoration work in 2006 and some parts of the ship’s hull were damaged. During further restoration work, the ship was lifted off its keel and supported to prevent the hull sagging under its own weight. HM The Queen reopened the vessel for public viewing in 2012. The ship now has excellent displays, with information provided in pictures, images and artefacts on three levels. On the top deck, the sun shone on the view over Greenwich College, the River Thames and the Thames Tunnel entrances.
From here, the party then moved to the Sir Christopher Wren-designed Admiral’s House in the Old Royal Naval College for drinks and an excellent lunch. Diners enjoyed rump of lamb after a smoked-salmon starter, and followed up with Eton Mess. The Master of Paviors, Dyfrig James, said grace in Welsh and was presented with a birthday cake after the meal, decorated with the Paviors’ logo in icing, to celebrate his special day.
After lunch, participants divided up into a number of groups, depending on their choice. One group visited the National Maritime Museum; one had a tour of the Royal Observatory; and a third group visited the Painted Hall, a building which had originally been a hospital for seamen in the Old Royal Naval College. Here, two groups of Paviors were entertained by excellent guides who gave information on the background and history of the building. The ceiling and walls of the building were adorned with huge paintings done by James Thornhill over 300 years ago. The ceiling of the Painted Hall is currently being restored and the scaffolding in place for this enables visitors to see the ceiling at close quarters. On climbing the stairs to view this, the groups were shown specific details, including the images of William and Mary at the centre. The painting has amazing attention to detail. The restoration process was explained, as were some of the painting’s oddities that had been discovered as a result of earlier restorations – such as the person with 12 fingers and toes!
At the end of the tours, participants returned in their own time aboard a Thames Clipper to reflect on what had been a fascinating and most enjoyable day. Many thanks to the organizers Peter King and Tom Barton.
Click here to see more images of the event in the Photographic Archive.