S.S. Politician

S.S. Politician

S.S. Politician


The London Merchant and the SS Politician

In 1923 the Furness Shipbuilding Company Ltd built 8 ships at Haverton-hill on Teeside – one of these vessels was the London Merchant.

In 1935, Thomas & James Harrison Shipping Line (Liverpool) purchased the ship and renamed her the S.S. Politician.

Following the outbreak of war in 1939, Harrison’s were obliged to put the Polly at the service of the Admiralty between September 1939 and the new year of 1941. During this time Polly made 11 successful return voyages across the Atlantic between Liverpool / Manchester to New Orleans and the West Indies.

On the 3rd February 1941, the S.S. Politician set sail from Liverpool bound for New Orleans and Kingston, Jamaica under Captain Beaconsfield Worthington. On the night of 4th/5th February, the Polly is off course and at 07.45 am on the 5th she ran aground in the Sound of Calvay, Eriskay. The islanders rescued the Polly’s crew members and there were no casualties. It quickly became apparent that the ship was carrying an important cargo. She has run aground with 25,000 cases of blended Scottish whisky on board in hold number 5. In addition to the whisky, the ship was also carrying eight cases of currency bound for Jamaica. In all there were nearly 290,000 ten-shilling notes.

During the next six months, many islanders ‘liberated’ quantities of whisky and other items from the wrecked vessel, and Jamaican currency turned up in various towns and travel agents. Bottles of whisky were stashed all over the island – under floorboards, buried in gardens, hidden in lochs and even in rabbit holes.

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