NOSTALGIA: Black day for navy as daily rum ration is scrapped

Dressed in their best Number 8s working dress and black armbands are Jacky Jackson, Paddy Jordan, Tom Coleman and 'Stokes' with Eddie Wardle kneeling in front. They were serving in HMS Ark Royal.
Dressed in their best Number 8s working dress and black armbands are Jacky Jackson, Paddy Jordan, Tom Coleman and 'Stokes' with Eddie Wardle kneeling in front. They were serving in HMS Ark Royal.
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Many veteran sailors will tell you, tongue in cheek, that the Royal Navy started to go downhill when the custom of issuing a daily tot of rum came to an end in 1970.

The high lords of the Admiralty thought that with the coming of the computer age more technical equipment and complex weapons systems in ships sailors were better off without Nelson’s Blood inside them.

The certificate presented to Tom Coleman by the captain of HMS Ark Royal.

The certificate presented to Tom Coleman by the captain of HMS Ark Royal.

The final tot was served on Friday, July 31, 1970, a day which became known as Black Friday or Black Tot Day.

Ships’ companies lined up for their final tot in the forenoon watch (11am) after the pipe ‘up spirits’.

Such was the significance of the day that some sailors even wore black armbands.

Pusser’s Rum was 95.5 proof so was watered down for ratings below petty officer.

In the tidal basin of Portsmouth dockyard is a section of the Mulberry Harbour just leaving North Wall in 1944. 'Picture courtesy Mike Nolan '  mmm

In the tidal basin of Portsmouth dockyard is a section of the Mulberry Harbour just leaving North Wall in 1944. 'Picture courtesy Mike Nolan ' mmm

Ratings were served one-eighth of an imperial pint diluted with two-parts water making three-eighths of an imperial pint. This was called grog.

Temperance sailors were given 3p a day although most took the rum and shared it with their oppos for favours. Sailors under the age of 20 were classed UA, under age.

The whole process, called Splicing the Mainbrace, is still called on special occasions by the Queen.

The photograph and certificate seen here were sent to me by Tom Coleman formerly of HMS Ark Royal.

The Portsdown Cycles & Radio outlet. Can anyone tell me where it might have been? Picture: Barry Cox Collection.

The Portsdown Cycles & Radio outlet. Can anyone tell me where it might have been? Picture: Barry Cox Collection.

The certificate was presented to sailors in the aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal by the captain to commemorate that final day of Splicing the Mainbrace.

• I am sure most of you have seen the large lump of concrete looking like an iceberg sticking out of the water on the eastern side of Langstone Harbour.

It is a section of the famous Mulberry Harbour, the concrete structures built to assist the unloading of ships after D-Day on June 6,1944.

I don’t know if they were constructed in the dockyard at any time but in this picture, loaned by Mike Nolan, we see a section being floated out of the tidal basin within the dockyard. Mike thinks it might have been used as a degaussing range.

Perhaps someone can enlighten me?

• More help please.

The final picture shows a strange mixture, a cycle and radio shop. But where was it? The title might mean it was over the hill, perhaps at Widley.?

Then again the houses make it look like it could have been in Copnor Road, Portsmouth

I am sure one of you might know.