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Whisky galore

6 July 2010 by Sam

old bottle covered in barnacles

Following the closure of Greenock Customs House the UK Border Agency National Museum (Seized!) recently collected an unusual array of objects. One of the highlights is this whisky bottle believed to be off the SS Politician – the cargo ship that was immortalised in the classic Ealing comedy ‘Whisky Galore’ in 1949.

Laden with goods, including 50,000 cases of scotch, the Politician left Liverpool in 1941 bound for the American market. However, during a heavy storm the captain was unable to keep the ship on course, and she ran aground on a sandbank off the Isle of Eriskay, in the Scottish Western Isles.
 
Once the local residents heard from the crew about the contents of the ship, they set about salvaging the whisky. However the local Customs officer regarded this as theft, and illegal. A series of police raids set about finding the looted goods.
 
The bottle acquired for the national collection still has barnacles attached, suggesting that it has spent some time in the sea. It will now form part of our reserve collection off display.

In the Seized gallery in the basement of Merseyside Maritime Museum there are lots more objects with fascinating stories behind them, including these display highlights. On the website there are also lots of objects from behind the scenes with unusual tales to tell.

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