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Last call for Whitby’s old whalebones
Scarborough Borough Council is offering local organisations or
people from the area a final opportunity to become the custodian of
Whitby’s old whalebones.
The council first undertook an unsuccessful search for someone
to take on the old whalebones back in February 2010 after they
could no longer be stored by Whitby Archives. Once again the
council is appealing for local people to come forward with
suggestions for taking ownership of this important part of Whitby’s
heritage before they are disposed of.
John Woodhead, Scarborough Borough Council’s Northern Area
The old whalebones are in a bad state of disrepair and
unfortunately are a health and safety liability if they are placed
on public land which is why they were replaced with a new set.
“When this historic artefact was taken down it was donated to
Whitby Archives but since their closure the bones have become
homeless due to their size, it is unfortunate but the council has
nowhere left to store them. A local company, Wilf Noble, offered to
store the bones and have done so for a number of years and it is
with regret that they are no longer have space for them anymore
which is why they were originally placed on e-bay as no-one
originally came forward with an appropriate use for them.”
Local ward councillor Joe Plant added:
“It would be poignant if the whalebones could remain in Whitby
and we are hoping that this final push will get someone local to
come forward and take ownership of the bones.”
In the late 1990s the jawbone arch had reached a point where
weathering had taken its toll on the condition of the bones and
despite renovation work the whalebones were becoming a liability
and would have had to be taken down. In 2002, after a worldwide
appeal the council was fortunate to acquire a new set of jawbones
from the people of Barrow in Alaska (twinned with Whitby). The new
bones are from a Bowhead Whale which was killed legally by native
Inuits in 1996.
The original bones were acquired back in 1963 by Whitby Rural
District Council as a gift from the Norwegian Shipping Company
‘Thor Dahl’ to erect in Whitby in celebration of the town's whaling
past. These bones came from a 113 ton Fin whale which was killed in
the Weddell Sea in the Antarctic by the Norwegian whaling ship
‘Thorshovdi’. The jawbones arrived at the port of Middlesbrough and
on 16 September 1963 were transported to Whitby where they were
stored on a car park until it was agreed where they should be
The West Cliff was chosen as an appropriate place to display the
jawbones given its close proximity to the Captain Cook monument.
The whalebone arch measured 19 ft and 3 inches in height and stood
in the same location for 40 years.
The new jawbone arch stands proudly in the same location and
will continue to be enjoyed by locals and visitors alike for years
If you are interested in acquiring the whalebones please contact
John Woodhead, Scarborough Borough Council’s Northern Area Engineer
by telephoning 01723 232589 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
All approaches received will be considered, based upon on their