Winnie the Weevil

09 August 2023


09 August 2023


Winnie the weevil has been found on board the SS Great Britain hiding in, under and around ship's biscuits. Winnie loves cuddles but weevils in the 1800s were not as friendly...

This week we welcomed a new furry friend on board the ship! Winnie is a cheeky little critter who can often be found racing around the ship with her fellow weevil friends or snacking on some tasty ship’s biscuits.  

Winnie the Weevil has a dislike of elbows, thanks to hundreds of sailors who have used them to tap her out of biscuits before stealing her tasty treat! 

Don’t tell Winnie, but weevils were an unpleasant part of life on board the SS Great Britain and on other ships. These common bugs were unwanted passengers, regularly infesting the provisions, especially ship’s biscuits, kept in the food store.

Winnie the weevil eating sugar and a ship's biscuit in steerage on board the SS Great Britain

“…And amongst the Sugar at Breakfast I found some little animals with a many legs running races together. This is most filthy and not very pleasant.”

— E. T. Richards, voyage 9, 1852 (2nd class)


The main method for removing weevils from ship’s biscuits was to tap the biscuit on your elbow or a hard surface to make the weevils fall out. Another solution was to leave the biscuit out in the sun which caused the weevils to crawl out of the holes leaving them to be picked off by hand. For crew who could access the galley, another two hours in the oven would kill off the weevils – although it might not have been the best way if they were really hungry.

Sometimes, it was impossible to remove all the weevils and they were unwillingly eaten along with the ship’s biscuit. They had an unpleasant, bitter taste, but at least added extra protein to the meal!  

Give Winnie a Home

Biscuits are perhaps not the most sensible place to live, give Winnie the Weevil a new home today! You can find her in our gift shop or online webstore.  
Shop Winnie

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