Pig & Whistle? (crew pub)

Jan 18, 2006
Someone on a Facebook group asked about a 'Pig and Whistle', which is apparently typically a pub on board for the crew's use. I'm told that this is quite common on ships. Did the Olympic class liners have one? The closest thing that I've found on studying the deck plans is the Crew's Mess which is on the C deck forecastle, IIRC.

Or perhaps the Pig and Whistle is something that might have come along later in shipping, no idea. I've never been crew, and I've only ever been a passenger on Haze Gray and Underway Cruise Lines.

Jim Currie

Apr 16, 2008
Funchal. Madeira
Back in the good, bad old days, drinking alcohol was strictly regulated on British MN ships. A crew bar of any kind was almost unheard of.

Normally, ships carried a small supply of beer and spirits in a bonded store which was in charge of the Chief Steward. When the ship cleared port, the seal on the BOND was broken and the Bond was opened for about an hour at designated times during the voyage. Depending on the Master, the crew would be allowed to purchase a couple of beers at a time to be consumed off duty and not to be stored for a single drunken binge. As in the Royal Navy, Merchant Seamen were also entitled to a small tot of rum. This they had to consume in front of the person dispensing it. The practice was eventually phased-out. A "Pig & Whistle Crew Bar" is a relatively knew thing.

Hope this helps.

Jim C.

Adam Went

Apr 28, 2003
I'm not sure if this is international but in Australia there is a chain of restaurants / pubs called "Pig & Whistle". Noticed them when I was in Brisbane, seems to be a relatively new thing. Might have something to do with the name derived from the crew bar.


Bob Godfrey

Nov 22, 2002
The Queen Mary had a 'Pig & Whistle' for the crew which wasn't a pub as such but a bar (liquor store) adjacent to a baggage handling area which, while the ship was at sea, could be used by the crew as a recreation area. This was probably a postwar development in the 1950s. From that time onward there seem to have been facilities more like real pubs for the use of tourist class passengers on many ships, and the name 'Pig & Whistle' was often used for these. But back at the time when the Olympic Class ships entered service the shipping regulations and/or the rule books for individual Lines were very wary of making alcohol too freely available. It was generally forbidden for crew members. Even the 3rd Class passengers could not obtain strong drink (ie spirits) from the bars. But obviously many of the victualing crew had access to the stocks of alcohol on board and in some cases (like Chief Baker Joughin) they later freely admitted to keeping private supplies in their quarters.

Rob Lawes

Jun 13, 2012
The name Pig and Whistle has it's origins in naval history. A pig is a derogatory term for an officer. In the days of sail when men were required to go aloft work the sails and rigging it was often said that officers cared little for the men and what was going on above their heads. An officer, like a pig, can not look up. As for the Whistle, some orders relating to the recovery of boats and other seamanship activities were given by the blowing of a bosun's call. This made a shrill whistling sound which could be heard above the general noise of the ship and it's crew. To avoid confusion, the men were prohibited from whistling. The use of a bosun's call survives in the RN today when at 07:00 (08:00 on Sundays) every morning the crew are woken up to the pipe 'call the hands' and the Captain and other VIPs are piped over the side. There is also a story that one of the main naval mutinies (possibly Spithead) began by a sailor whistling a tune and to this day whistling in front of an officer is considered a sign of mutiny (along with an unauthorised gathering of 2 or more sailors) however this story can not be fully verified.

So, a Pig and Whistle (be that a bar on a ship or as is the case in some old naval towns, ashore) is a Sailors in joke against their Lords and Masters.

Hope that adds to the interest.


Rob L
Mar 8, 2017
The name “Pig & Whistle” comes from the old English words “Piggin” and “Wassail”. Piggin was a big lead cup, which was used to hold a spiced wine called Wassail. In the winter the wine would be heated and drunk at the local Inn. Gradually the Inn took on the name of this famous wine and the mug it was drunk from, hence the Pig and Whistle. Having worked on around 14 cruise ships in the 80's and 90's I can confirm that the crew bar was always known as 'The Pig'. It was by far the wildest place on any cruise ship, more than 30 different nationalities all trying to get drunk as quickly as possible every night made for some interesting times. !

Steve Butcher

Apr 2, 2012
I'm sure Capt. Smith could throw back a few cocktails during/after dinner while puffing on a big stogie. It seems to me his job was more akin to what today would be called a "cruise director" as opposed to a true nautical captain. The high rollers all called him the "millionaire's Captain" and as such he was the face of the line and expected to dine and hold forth with the high rollers, tell old pirate stories, give bridge tours to kids and ultra-rich guys, etc.

Also the higher-ranked officers like Lightoller could probably have a cocktail or two when off watch. They also were expected to schmooze a bit, since that's how one rose to Captain rank. In the B&W British documentary I believe Lights is invited for a drink and tells the millionaires "perhaps in a bit when I'm off watch" so he obviously was not bound by the no-booze rule. But low end officers like Boxhall and Moody were probably not allowed any liquor, maybe a beer or two at most.

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