The Admiralty victualling manual advises that the 'chimbs' (sic) of rum
casks are to be painted red and that rum casks are to be marked by the
victualling yards with a serial number, the date of filling and their actual
contents of spirit, ( not with their gross capacity ).
Both ends of the Kilderkin cask above left, are shown right, both painted
red to denote that the cask contains rum.
The image top right shows how one end of the cask was 'blacked' and
the required markings scribed into the surface by the victualling yard:
'REY' at the top of the cask denotes that the cask was filled at the
Royal Elizabeth Yard in Scotland.
'6/68' at the bottom of the cask denotes that the cask was filled in June
'10 2/8' to the right of the cask denotes that it contains 10 gallons and
1 quart of rum.
'79' to the left of the cask denotes that this cask was the 79th cask to be
The image bottom right shows the opposite end of the Kilderkin cask.
I do not think it was normal practice to 'stencil' the name of a ship to a cask, but this one reads 'HMS Arethusa' - 'Chagaramus Trinidad'.
( Perhaps Arethusa was West Indies guard ship at some time, landing or maybe collecting casks from the naval base at Chagaramus? ).
Royal Navy 'Kilderkin' rum cask - 18 gallons.
The image left shows a Royal Navy rum cask.
Rum was supplied by the Victualling Yards to larger vessels and fleet shore establishments in such casks, of varying size. ( Small vessels being supplied with rum in one gallon stone jars bound with wicker ).
The Admiralty Victualling Manual lists the following cask sizes:
'Half Hogshead' 27 Gallons.
'Kilderkin' 18 Gallons.
'Small Cask' 9 Gallons. ( Listed as 'small cask', however a 9 gallon cask is commonly called a 'Firkin' ).
Royal Navy Rum Casks.
Casks being filled from large wooden vats at a Victualling Yard.
Royal coat of arms from RN rum cask #2. Steel strengthening band inside RN rum cask #2.
Refurbished R.N. rum cask. #1
Refurbished R.N. rum cask. #2.
Casks stowed 'bung up and bilge free - HMS Warrior. Drawing the days spirit in the Spirit Room,
HMS Albion ( R07 ).
Casks were stored in the 'spirit room', a forced ventilated, securely locked compartment. The key being kept on the 'important keyboard' - with restricted access.
A cask containing spirit was stowed 'bung up and bilge free', in a stillage - laying horizontally on wooden supports, the bung uppermost and the bottom of the cask free of the deck.
The image below left was taken on board HMS Warrior in Portsmouth, the arrangement is more for 'show' but illustrates the cask stowage principle.
The image below right shows the inside of the spirit room of HMS Albion, taken at the time of drawing off the spirit for the days issue - the cask stowage can be seen in the background.
Also shown are: two barricoe's on the deck, a set of lipped measures on two folding tables and a rum pump inserted into a cask.
( HMS Albion, 'Spirit Room' image reproduced by kind permission of the HMS Albion Association ( R07 )).
The image left shows the Royal coat of arms on the cask above, right, in greater detail.
The image below shows the steel band added for structural support, after the removel of the cask head.
When the rum issue ceased in 1970, many casks were disposed of, being purchased by private individuals and companies.
The image right, shows one such cask, the outer timbers have been sanded and varnished, steel bands replaced with brass and a 'Royal' coat of arms transfer applied. One of the heads removed and a steel supporting band installed internally.
The image left shows a Royal Navy rum cask that has been refurbished. Unusually, the brass lettering for the Royal toast - 'The Queen God Bless Her' has been applied to the cask - these letters would normally be seen on a grog tub!
Cask steel banding and rivets. Cask steel band support.
Royal Navy rum casks were made from oak and coopered in the victualing yards.
The image below left shows a closer view of part of the steel band assembly. The top and bottom bands have two steel rivets while the inner two bands have one steel rivet.
This particular cask also has band supports - for the inner two bands the supports lie below the bands, for the two outer bands, the supports pass through the band.
The image below right shows the inner band support - with the band lifted slightly to show the support. In the image left, the band supports pass though the outer band and can be seen at the left and right of the band.