Glasgow & West Scotland

Melbourne shipwreck beer back in Glasgow after 150 years

Diver Jim Anderson and 150-year-old stout Image copyright PAUL CHAPPELLS
Image caption Jim Anderson now age 72 holds the bottle he found decades ago

A diver who discovered a 150-year-old bottle of Tennent's off the coast of Australia has brought the stout back to Scotland.

Jim Anderson sent the artefact back to the Glasgow brewery after finding it on a shipwreck in the 1970s.

The bottle was on board The Light of The Age when its drunken captain caused the clipper to sink near Melbourne on 16 January 1868.

It is thought to be the oldest bottle of beer in Scotland.

'Very special'

Recalling the discovery, 72-year-old Mr Anderson said: "I could see the inscription Wellpark Brewery on it, and I set about finding where that was.

"I found out it was in Glasgow, and I contacted Tennent's to see if they were interested in the bottle, which they were, and I was delighted.

"Now people can look at it, and think about the connection between Australia and Scotland, too. It's very special."

Image copyright PAUL CHAPPELLS
Image caption The artefact is carefully handled before going on display

The Light of The Age was carrying 42 people on a voyage from Liverpool, with a cargo of salt, slates, pipes, preserves and liquors including stout from Wellpark.

The Scottish brewery had well-established agents in Liverpool and Australia, and regular shipments from Glasgow via Liverpool were common.

However the captain, who was found to be drunk by a marine board investigation, took the ship off course and ran it aground.

Image copyright Tennent's
Image caption The bottle top from the stout eroded after years under water

The ship sank outside Port Phillip Heads near Melbourne - but the bottle of Tennent's survived.

A member of the Geelong Skindivers Club, Mr Anderson discovered the bottle before Australian laws changed to protect wreck sites.

He added: "It took a bit of clearance to get it to Glasgow because artefacts are protected in Australia and we need special authorisation for things like this to leave the country.

"I sought all that, and it's amazing to see it back where it started, 150 years later, metres from where it started its journey."

Image copyright Jim Anderson
Image caption Jim Anderson is a member of the Geelong Skindivers Club

The stout and its story will be put on display at the brewery's new visitor centre opening on 22 November.

Tennent's have also developed a commemorative edition of the stout after brewers researched the firm's old recipes.

Image copyright Tennent's
Image caption Tennent's have developed a commemorative brew to celebrate the bottle's return

Alan McGarrie, group brand director for Tennent's said: "Pre-dating Tennent's Lager, which was first brewed in 1885, the stout is one of the oldest bottles of beer in Britain, returned to Wellpark by the diver who found it.

"Unlike the drunken captain who ran his ship aground close to Port Phillip Heads, Jim has ensured his historic cargo reached its final destination - by flying round the world to put it in place himself."

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