Des Newton

Ship Bottle Demonstrator

1941 - 2009

Sadly, Des died on 31st January 2009 after a valiant fight against illness and the maritime world is all the poorer for his passing. It is intended to maintain this website in his memory.

For the past two decades, no maritime or shanty festival in the U.K. was complete without the appearance of Des Newton.

Whilst the old deep sea sailors sang shanties to aid with their work and forebitters during their leisure time, they also indulged in the fascinating and delicate art of putting ships in bottles.

 Des demonstrating his art As a modern exponent of this art, there was none to compare with Des. A Lancastrian by birth and a Scouser by adoption, he had been exhibiting his skill for 20 years as resident “Ship in Bottle” demonstrator at the famous Merseyside Maritime Museum at the Albert Dock, Liverpool, as well as representing them at festivals throughout the United Kingdom.

Prior to Des becoming a full time “Ship Bottler,” he was a professional entertainer. The combination of his skills coming together resulted in the ability to demonstrate the age-old craft of placing models into bottles in an entertaining way. Add to this an in depth study of the craft's history related along with some very interesting anecdotes and you had something to entertain all ages.

Over the years, Des demonstrated to people from all over the world and all walks of life, including many VIPs such as HM The Queen, HRH The Duke of Edinburgh, HRH Prince Charles, HRH Princess Margaret, The Duke of Kent and many others. One of the pinnacles of his career came when he was requested to make a scale model of the Royal Yacht “Britannia” in a bottle and presented it to Her Majesty The Queen aboard the Royal Yacht 'Britannia' during its visit to Liverpool. Further ship models were requested for other members of the Royal Family.

Virtually no bottle was too miniscule for ship insertion and Des holds the world record for inserting two ships into the world's smallest whisky bottle.

How did I come to be putting ships into bottles?

Television Appearances included:

Blue Peter
What's my Line
Good Morning
Granada reports
You Bet
Look North
On The Waterfront
The Green Boat


One of Des's passions was the RNLI and over the years he collected sums of money in support of their work. In 1989, in recognition of this, he was awarded the "Lifeboatman" statuette for his services to the R.N.L.I.
Des was also made a Life Governor and represented the Institution at a Queen's Garden Party.
He was particularly dedicated to the Barrow Lifeboat where he was born and if you would like to make a donation in Des's memory, please send it to:

Piel Street,
Roa Island,
Cumbria, LA13 0QQ

This List was last updated on 21st July 2009.

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