Shipwrecked bottle of stout returns to Glasgow after 150 years

A 150-year-old bottle of beer discovered near a shipwreck off the coast of Australia has been returned to its brewery in Glasgow.

Published 17th Nov 2018
Updated 9 th Aug 2023

The bottle of stout was discovered by diver Jim Anderson close to where the ill-fated clipper The Light of The Age foundered near Melbourne in January 1868 on a voyage from Liverpool.

Mr Anderson made the discovery in the 1970s and noticed a Wellpark Brewery stamp.

He eventually contacted the brewery and has now brought the bottle back to Glasgow, where it will feature in a new £1 million visitor centre built to tell the story of Tennent’s Lager.

The stout pre-dates Tennent’s Lager but was made in the Wellpark Brewery that created the famous Scottish drink.

At the time, Wellpark was the biggest exporter of bottled beer in the world and the shipwrecked bottle is thought to be one of the oldest in Britain.

Mr Anderson, 72, has travelled to Scotland with his wife Jan for the opening of the Tennent’s Visitor Centre on November 22.

shipwrecked bottle

An old photograph of Australian diver Jim Anderson, who discovered a150-year-old bottle of Tennent’s stout from the wreck of the fast and large wooden clipper ship, the ‘Light of the Age’. Picture: Picture: Paul Chappells/PA

He said: “I found it on a dive in the 1970s, photographed it, and put it in my basement along with other things I’d salvaged from wrecks from those days.

“It was there for years, and it wasn’t until I found the old photographs when I was looking through an old book earlier this year.

“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.

“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.”

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He added: “This little bottle is a reminder of the historic connection between Australia and Scotland, too.

"I hope people enjoy seeing it and think about those days and the distance it travelled before I found it. It has come home and brought me with it.”

shipwrecked bottle

The ancient bottle is now on display as part of “The Tennent’s Story” visitor centre. Picture: Paul Chappells/PA

Tennent’s bosses say the new visitor centre at its Wellpark Brewery will tell the history of brewing in the area from the 1500s through to the present day. To mark the shipwrecked bottle’s homecoming,

Tennent’s brewers have gone back through old recipes in order to recreate a commemorative-edition run of the stout.

Group brand director Alan McGarrie said: “The Tennent’s Story tells the incredible story of brewing on the Wellpark site, which dates way back to 1556.

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"The fascinating story of the shipwrecked bottle, and the captain who ran his boat aground, is just one of the exhibits on show as we explore the past, the present and the future of Tennent’s. Pre-dating Tennent’s Lager, which was first brewed in 1885, the stout is one of the oldest bottles of beer in Britain.”

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