Black Tot Day

#OnThisDay in 1970 the Royal Navy stopped its daily rum ration, also known as the daily tot, and the 31st July has been known since as Black Tot Day. To commemorate this historic moment, we have a free rum tasting and tour today at 11.30am. Learn more about maritime history and have a wee tot!

The tradition of a daily rum ration began in 1655, when Jamaica was taken from the Spanish and rum became a staple on Royal Navy ships. It was implemented initially to boost crew morale and maintain high spirits during long sea voyages. The rum was often kept in rum tubs (pictured below) stationed on the weather deck. However, due to disruptive behaviour the rum ration was diluted to create grog (named after Admiral Edward Vernon’s nickname ‘Old Grogram’) and measurements halved twice throughout the years. By the 1950s, sailors were only allowed 1/8th of a pint. On 28th January 1970, the House of Commons debated the motion that the rum ration should be stopped, in what was called ‘the Great Rum Debate’. The motion carried, and just over 7 months later the sailors had their final ration. They wore black armbands, with some even carrying out a mock funeral procession and starting to cry.