Culture Magazine

A Deptford Whale

By Carolineld @carolineld
Whales in the Thames are not unknown, but they're certainly unusual. When one swam up the river a few years ago, the media followed its every move. The public was equally fascinated in 1842 - but the poor animal had met with a very different reception. While efforts were made to save its modern counterpart, the Victorian stray was killed and immediately put on public display.
On Sunday 23 October, a young whale made its way to Deptford Pier. There, it was spotted by watermen who immediately set off in armed pursuit. The Illustrated London News describes what followed:
Five of them put off in their boat, and one of them, armed with a large bearded spear, commenced the attack upon the monster, which soon showed symptoms of weakness, and threw up large quantities of water from the aperture on its back. The other boats surrounded the animal and pushed it along with their boat-hooks close under the pier, where they finally despatched him, and with strong cords and pullies raised him, with much difficulty, upon the pier. In a short time afterwards such immense numbers of persons congregated to gratify their curiosity, that Mr John Taylor, the high constable of Deptford, was compelled to call for the aid of the R division of the police to keep order.
A Deptford whale
The gory spectacle over, the whale was moved to the Bull and Butcher pub in Old King Street and put on display. No time was lost in circulating publicity material:
EXTRAORDINARY AND SURPRISING NOVELTY!
MAY BE SEEN,
On the Premises of Mr. Williams,
BULL & BUTCHER,
Old King Street, Deptford,
A FINE YOUNG WHALE,
WHICH WAS KILLED OFF DEPTFORD PIER,
Yesterday, (Sunday,) October 23rd 1842,
By a Number of Watermen.
The above measures in length above 20 Feet; in circumference 10 Feet, and weighs above 2 Tons.
May be viewed daily, from 9 o’Clock in the morning till 10 o’Clock at Night.
The Illustrated London News account identifies it as a finback whale, 14 feet 6 inches long (it seems to have grown in the flyer quoted above). It also suggested how the whale came to be in such an unlikely location: 'He is supposed to have gone blind in the river while in pursuit of herrings.'
In 1891, a writer to the Kentish Notebook suggested that after being displayed in Deptford, the whale went on to be shown at the Half Moon Inn in Borough. Finally, it was dissected and its skeleton given to the British Museum.
Perhaps even more strangely, this was not the first Deptford whale. John Evelyn described one meeting an equally brutal end there in June 1658:
A large whale was taken betwixt my land butting on the Thames and Greenwich, which drew an infinite concourse to see it, by water, coach, and on foote, from London and all parts. It appeared first below Greenwich at low water, for at high water it would have destroyed all the boats; but lying now in shallow water, incompassed with boats, after a long conflict it was killed with a harping yron, struck in the head, out of which it spouted blood and water by two tunnells, and after a horrid grone it ran quite on shore and died. Its length was fifty-eight foote, height sixteen, black skin'd like coach-leather, very small eyes, greate taile, and onely two small finns, a picked snout, and a mouth so wide that divers men might have stood upright in it; no teeth, but suck'd the slime onely as thro' a grate of that bone which we call whale-bone; the throate yet so narrow as would not have admitted the least of fishes. The extremes of the cetaceous bones hang downwards from the upper jaw; and was hairy towards the ends and bottom within-side; all of it prodigious; but in nothing more wonderful than that an animal of so greate a bulk should be nourished onely by slime through those grates.

Image: Illustrated London News, 29 October 1842, 'catching a whale off Deptford Pier'

You Might Also Like :

Back to Featured Articles on Logo Paperblog

These articles might interest you :

  • Trust the Line

    So many companies don’t trust the line out the door. They work hard for months or years creating products and services people want. They market and get out ther... Read more

    10 hours, 44 minutes ago by   Stacylrust
    BUSINESS, LIFE COACH, LIFESTYLE
  • Low-Carb Ketchup

    Low-Carb Ketchup

    Meal plansGet lots of weekly low-carb meal plans, complete with shopping lists and everything, with our premium meal planner tool (free trial).... Read more

    11 hours, 7 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • How to Pay MERALCO Bill Using G-Cash?

    MERALCO Bill Using G-Cash?

    Did you know that you can easily pay your MERALCO Bill using G-Cash? Bills Payment using G-cash has been working around since 2008 and there are lots of blogs... Read more

    11 hours, 14 minutes ago by   Tokitechie
    TECH
  • How to Demonize Real Food, Step by Step

    Demonize Real Food, Step

    Are you a scientist looking to demonize real food, but not sure how to do it? Don't you worry - Dr. Ted Naiman has got you covered in the simple step-by-step... Read more

    11 hours, 36 minutes ago by   Dietdoctor
    DIET & WEIGHT, HEALTH, HEALTHY LIVING, MEDICINE
  • Suncros 50 Aqualotion SPF 50 Sunscreen and Sunny Corbett Days

    Suncros Aqualotion Sunscreen Sunny Corbett Days

    Good morning Corbett! Could you be any more beautiful? It’s almost unfair how good you look the first thing in the morning! Here’s an early morning view of the... Read more

    12 hours, 24 minutes ago by   Anshulika
    FASHION, LIFESTYLE
  • Health Benefits of Yoga

    Health Benefits Yoga

    The practice of yoga has many health benefits. Yoga can improves the function of digestion, builds muscle strength, weight reduction many more. Here's what... Read more

    12 hours, 40 minutes ago by   Lili Gomes
    HOME
  • Pickled Ginger Turns 2!

    Pickled Ginger Turns

    Celebrate Ginger! It’s all about ginger cocktails and ginger dishes this Thursday in the West End as Pickled Ginger restaurant The post Pickled Ginger turns 2!... Read more

    12 hours, 54 minutes ago by   Emma
    DESTINATIONS, DINING OUT, FOOD & DRINK

COMMENTS ( 1 )

By  Thecleverpup
posted on 18 April at 15:40
Report spam/abuse

great article

Magazines