Whaling in Whitby
Reports tell tales of many boats being upturned by seas, crushed by ice and men's lives lost.
It is thought that Whitby's whaling industry was responsible for the harvest of over 25,000 seals, 55 polar bears and 2761 whales. These were brought back to Whitby where great boiler houses built alongside the harbour rendered the blubber into oil.
On the fleet's return to harbour those on land would pay close attention to the returning ships mast - if they were returning with a successful catch they would attach the whales' jaw bones here as a communication that the ship was full. It is this tradition that is marked by the town's monumental whale jaw archway, originally given to Whitby by Norwegian Thor Dhal and the artist Graham Leach in 1963 in recognition of the dangers faced by the whalers and as a tribute to Whitby's famous whaling history.
The bone arch was replaced in 2002 as years of facing the harsh weather conditions had left the monument in a state of decay. The current whale bones were donated by Whitby's sister town of Anchorage, Alaska. They were found abandoned after a legal hunt on Alaska's northern coast.
Whitby's whaling industry came to an end in 1837 after a succession of less successful trips.
The last returning whaling ship to enter Whitby was empty.
Whitby Gallery Photo
Whitby in 1959
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