Bung of the six gallon Barricoe.

The image left, shows the bung in position with the hasp closed, ready to be locked.

The 'bung' of the six gallon Barricoe is shown in the image below left, made of oak and looking similar to a 'sock darning mushroom'.

Once the required amount of rum had been poured into the Barricoe, the bung would be replaced and the hasp closed and locked, the key retained by the issuing officer until the time when the rum would be mixed with water, for issue.

The Image below right, shows the bung in position with the hasp mechanism open.

View along the top of the ten gallon Barricoe.

The image left, shows a view along the top of the ten gallon Barricoe.

The three brass hoops at one end can be seen and also the twin copper rivets of each hoop.

The hoop closest to the 'head' is often wider than the other two hoops, which are usually the same width.

All of the copper rivets, from hoops on both sides of the Barricoe, should line up at the top of the Barricoe.

Some Barricoes have their hoops secured in position with escutcheon pins - small brass nails, with a round head - this would not have been the case in service, but after a period of time 'drying out', the Barricoe will shrink and the 'staves' become loose, escutcheon pins may help to retain the original placing of the hoops.

At one end of the Barricoe, the hoop joints will all face the same way, at the opposite end, the joints will all face the opposite way.

The image left also shows the hasp raised and the bung removed.

End view showing Ovaloid construction of Barricoe.                        Damage to the brass 'hoops' on the underside.

All wooden parts of the 'Barricoe' were constructed from oak, the 'staves' shaped to give an ovaloid form when assembled.

The 'heads' at both ends are made from two or more pieces of timber, the 'head' assembly is chamfered and grooved into the 'staves', the whole Barricoe assembly being held tightly together by a series of copper riveted, brass hoops.
A brass lifting handle is attached to each 'head' and a brass 'hasp and staple' allows the bung to be locked into place, preventing unauthorised access.

The image below left, shows the ovaloid form of the 'Barricoe'. Due to the ovaloid shape, the Barricoe can be lain on the floor without fear of it rolling away.
A Royal Navy 'Barricoe' does not have 'feet', it rests on the deck, on it's lower 'staves', as a consequence, the bottom 'staves' of a Barricoe, that has not been refurbished, will be damaged, as will the brass hoops that may make contact with the deck from time to time.
The image below right, shows the damage that has occurred to the brass hoops of the ten gallon 'Barricoe' above, the 'staves' have been sanded smooth to remove damage.

Ten gallon 'Barricoe'.                                                                            Six gallon 'Barricoe'.

A 'Barricoe' would be used to transport rum from the Spirit Room - the stowage space where neat rum was stored, to the place where the rum would be mixed with water, in a grog or rum tub, and dispensed to 'Rum Bosuns', for further issue to their mess members.

Documentation shows that as early as the 1950's, and likely earlier, two sizes of 'Barricoe' were in use, six gallon and ten gallon.

I believe that the image above shows a six gallon 'Barricoe', a ten gallon 'Barricoe' is shown in the image below left, the image below right shows another six gallon 'Barricoe', a different variant to the one above.

After cessation of the rum issue, few authentic Grog Tubs survived. Even less authentic Barricoes made it out of the dockyard into private ownership - judging by the amount that have been offered for sale over the last 30 years.

I believe the lack of Barricoes in circulation today means that most were destroyed, never making it out of the Dockyard and Admiralty ownership.

Royal Navy Rum Barricoe / Breakers.

Image below, reproduced by kind permission of Charles Miller Ltd - Maritime Auctioneers.
An authentic Royal Navy 'Rum Barricoe'.

Evidence suggests that some originals may have had a 'head', handles and 'hasp and staple' removed, 'bung hole' filled in, thus converted into 'Stick/Umbrella' stands.
These frequently had a transfer applied, depicting a coat of arms, but apart from the timbers, little remains of the original Barricoe.

As this type/shape of cask was also in use commercially, outside of the RN, it's difficult to spot an authentic RN Barricoe having undergone a conversion to stick stand. Many factors need to be considered making identification difficult.

One company that was converting barricoes to 'stick stands' etc, was The Cooperage,  S.J. Lethbridge Ltd of 

Plymouth. The image below left shows the front of their cooperage.

​The image below right, comes from one of Lethbridge's trade show pamphlets, the year is approximately 1949.

At one time, Lethbridge's were making many items from scrapped wooden walls and later decommissioned battleships, under the names 'Battleships of Britain' and 'The Coopers Craft'.

Tally inside the stick stand, left.

The image above shows just one of the many other items that Lethbridge's were producing. In this case, a coal bucket.

End view of authentic barricoe showing handle screw holes.

The image left shows a 'Barricoe' and two copper rum funnels. In the Royal Navy, 'Barricoe' was usually pronounced 'Breaker'.

An early 'Lethbridges' stick stand is shown in the image below left. The image below right shows the tally pinned to the inside upper rim of the cask, suggesting that this particular item was made just after the second world war. 

​The Lethbridge pamphlet advises that 'due to the national situation and the consequent shortage of metal, the number of 'hoops' has been reduced'.

An enlarged view of the original transfer used by Lethbridges is shown two below, right.

End view of authentic barricoe showing handle.

Evidently, Lethbridge's were quite successful at procuring old kit from the Navy. The image above advising that they were able to obtain 'King' tubs - as well as 'Old Rum Breakers' from earlier. The tub image comes from the same trade show pamphlet 

( Approx 1950 ) as the 'Old Naval Rum Breaker' above.

S.J.Lethbridge Cooperage.                                                                  Converted Ex R.N. Barricoe.
King Grog Tubs for sale.

'Transfer' from stick stand, right.

Lethbridge Coal Bucket.

Lethbridges registered 'The Cooper's Craft' business in 1949.

The image below right shows a 'Cooper's Craft' barricoe. The 'tally' below left is pinned to the inside of the barricoe.

​It's not clear when, but Lethbridge's transfers also changed to the type - two below, left. My guess would be in 1949, at the same time the new business was registered. The new style transfer is shown two below, left.

It appears that the armorial crest was designed by the company, featuring a number of 'casks' etc.

​This crest appears on many other items made by Lethbridge ( Cooper's Craft ) at the time. Few if any, auction houses have made the connection, I've even seen this crest described as a British Royal Crest.

A six gallon barricoe would be issued to vessels and establishments  with a compliment below 800.

Unlike most rum ration equipment, I believe that the Barricoe's, like Grog Tubs, were not officially marked in any way - ( Admialty Pattern / Vocabulary numbers, Broad Arrow's etc ).

Vocabulary numbers for Royal Navy Rum Barricoes.

        Six Gallon

        Ten Gallon             52031

Regarding older Barricoes, the photographic record shows that there was little standardisation.

Two images of a cask possibly used as a water carrier - not a Royal Navy rum Barricoe

The two images below show a type of cask that  often tends to be described as a Rum Barricoe, perhaps they may have been for another Navy, but not for the Royal Navy. 

The hoops are galvanised steel, painted to look like brass in this case. The wooden carrying handles are attached to two of the hoops, the same two hoops have feet attached to the underside.

The brass threaded bung screws into a brass receptacle and one head has a hole, presumably where a tap was fitted.

One of my fellow collectors  believes that this style of cask may have been used to hold fresh water in life rafts

Small oval plate, three screw hole, lifting handle.                                Large oval plate, four screw hole, lifting handle.

The two images below show the lifting handles from the six gallon Barricoe, left, and the ten gallon Barricoe, right.

Barricoes using the large oval plate, four screw hole fixing, as image right, appear to be the most prevalent.

There appears to be little standardisation regarding the handle type - small plate or large plate, although the smaller, six gallon Barricoe, may have used the smaller, three screw hole plate design, but not exclusively so.

The image left shows the Barricoe on display at HMS Belfast - without a locking mechanism.

Occasionally, a brass star arangement appears around the bung hole.


Some very early units are decorated with the word 'Rum', in brass letters.

A variety of bung designs can be found, varying from elaborate acorns to tall, plain wooden stoppers.

Carrying handles were not always present, a loop of

rope may have been used to lift and carry the Barricoe.

Wooden blocks screwed to the 'heads' of the Barricoe were also used as handles 

Hasp closed for locking.
Bung in position and hasp open.

The image below shows my own 6 Gallon Barricoe and the sale release papers from RCY Gosport.

Water Barricoe?

Tally inside the stick stand, right.

'Transfer' from stick stand, left.

My own authentic 6 Gallon Barricoe 
Victualling Stores Issue Note - Royal Clarence Yard.                              6 Gallon Barricoe - Vocabulary Number 52036

​Converted Original Barricoes.

Lethbridge stick stand post 1949.

I am of the opinion that not all stick stands created by Lethbridge's started life as a R.N. barricoe.

Evidence appears to suggest that, certainly the earlier ones were, and as seen above, were advertised as such.

My research suggests that some barricoes were also made from old casks.

​There are several 'tells' to determine an Ex R.N. barricoe converted to a stick stand. The most important and obvious is the screw holes left in the remaining head, where the handle has been removed.

The image top right shows the end view of an authentic barricoe with it's handle in place. The image bottom right shows the bottom head, handle removed.

It is worth mentioning that not all barricoes had four screw handle plates or even had handles!