Mr John Dacoutros has presented a substantial number of artefacts from his personal collection of the Dacoutros family to the Malta Maritime Museum. The donation contains over 50 artefacts pertaining to the wine trade and shipping in Malta in the early 20th century. The donation includes various wooden barrels, copper lanterns, and numerous ship paraphernalia but amongst the most important is the model of the Maria Dacutros.
The built up wooden model represents the barquentine Maria Dacutros popularly known as Maria. The vessel was built in 1920 at Castellamare di Stabia in Italy as a double-hulled wine tanker. In 1943 she was fitted with a Kelvin diesel motor that was manufactured by Bergins Co Ltd of Glasgow in 1939. The Maria sailed on average at 5 knots per hour but could make more than 10 knots with engine and moderate wind. She was 34.95 meters long and could carry 209.8 tons of wine on each trip.
The barquentine previously called Ġesú & Maria was bought on 15 July 1919 by Spiridione Dacuotros from Charles Ellul Sullivan for the sum of 920 Sterling. After WWII the vessel served as a training unit for many Port Managers of the Government and dispatched mail to Sicily. According to Lloyds of London the Maria was the largest and last remaining wine tanker of its kind in the world. On 28 April 1952 she was lost in heavy seas at Cape Zevgasi near Limassol Cyprus.
The Maria was the pride of the fleet pertaining to the Dacoutros family.
The Dacoutros were one of the largest ship owners and wine importers for decades in the 20th century. The objects help us understand a relatively unknown part of Malta’s recent history – that of the wine trade – and Malta’s connection with its Greek neighbours to the east.
Mr John Dacoutros presented his donation this morning to the CEO of Heritage Malta, Mr Kenneth Gambin, in the presence of Senior Curator, Mr Emmanuel Magro Conti, and Principal Curator, Mr Liam Gauci.