Skegness Whale 1887





Very rarely is such a scene witnessed on the British coast as that which tools at Skegness on Sunday morning last, and very rarely, too, is a whale of such dimensions as the one under notice seen in these latitudes. The morning on Sunday was beautifully fine, and the sea comparatively calm, and no one would have expected to see anything of an unusual nature on our coast, but the storm on the previous Friday was, there is no doubt, the cause of the phenomenon. Being, as we have said, a fine morning Mr. J. it Story, the manager of the steamboat company, was taking a walk on the pier with Mr. Linder, the pier master, about half-past six o’clock. When on the pier head they saw whet proved to be a whale about half a mile east of the pier, and inside of what is known as the Skegness middle sands. It had, in all probability, been driven in a southern direction from the northern regions by the recent storms. About two miles east of Skegness there commences a ridge of sand, or sandbank and at which there is a buoy anchored. All vessels or boats bound for Boston or any other port in the Wash are obliged to keep outside this mark. It was at this point in the North Sea that the monster of the deep made its fatal mistake on Sunday. It came inside the sand bank and did not discover its error until it was too late. It could, however, have effected its escape by turning back towards the north or going direct south. It soon found itself in shallow water, and attempted to get to the open sea by going eastward, but here it found a barrier in the sandbank. It returned
it found a barrier in the sandbank. It returned to tile hollow, where it found deeper water, and continued its course westward, coming towards the shore, until it came close to the lauding stage at the pier head, when Mr. Storr gave it a severe blow on the head with a boat hook. It then changed its course, ran into the pier, striking one of the iron girders, and shaking the pier considerably. It here injured itself in the body and disabled one of its fins, and it was now somewhat severely injured, and so much so, in fact, that there was little or no fear of its being able to escape. This was about seven o’clock in the morning. It now floundered about in its injured condition and got out from under the pier. Here it remained some time, and its floundering caused the water to get very thick. This added to its disablement, and the prize seemed now to be fairly within Mr. Storr’s grasp. He therefore hurried off for assistance, and called Smalley and Rose, two boatmen. The former soon launched his boat, and with Mr. Storr on board, they quickly made for the pier head, and on their arrival there they found the monster lashing about with its tail. In a fearless and undaunted manner they closely approached it, and Mr. Storr kept striking it on the head with the boat hook. He was not in possession of a harpoon, and therefore used the weapon that came
nearest to hand. Many hazardous attempts ‘were made to secure the prize with a rope, but owing to the whale lashing about with its tail and the tide coming in rather strongly and tossing about the boat they proved unsuccessful.
The flowing tide rendered material assistance in, carrying it further towards the shore. Mr. Storr used his utmost endeavours to further disable it by means of the boat hook. Eventually, however, it drifted so far towards the shore as to get aground, and both Storr and Smalley then jumped overboard, getting into the water which reached nearly up to their necks, and put a rope round its tail and securely fastened it. The end of file rope was next secured with a anchor on the shore, and the prize was obtained, no one now daring to interfere with what was assumed to be their property. It was now about ten o’clock, so that the captors had had about three hours’ struggle with their victim. During this time the monster frequently spouted water from ten to fifteen feet High, , and almost drenched its pursuers with the same. It frequently lifted its huge head, with mouth open, several feet above the water. Being Sunday morning there were not so many people about at ail early hour
as is usual on other days, but by the time it was
what may be termed at anchor, the news of the capture had spread throughout the town, and a large number of persons had assembled on the beach.
The scene had now somewhat altered. It was no longer a whale being pursued, or attempts made to capture it. The chase was ended. The monster, however, did not seem disposed to die, and frequently lashed its tail, opened its terrible mouth, and spouted water. That it was in terrible agony there can be no doubt, and at times it made great efforts to struggle and seemed as though it would yet make an attempt to escape. This was particularly noticeable when the breakers rolled over it, and it was almost completely immersed in water, which appeared to somewhat revivify it. Mr. E. A. Jacks9n now appeared on the scene with rifle and cartridges, and tired several bullets into different parts of its body. When either of these took effect it was pretty¬ plainly seen, as the whale would spent water, and lash with its tail, and sometimes open its tremendous mouth. A large crowd of people had now gathered on the beach watching with great curiosity the movements or the sea monster, whose struggles did not terminate until about two o’clock, four hours after its having been
beached Its death struggle was apparent to all. At this hour it lashed its tail in the shallow water, which it threw in all directions and at it considerable height. There is little doubt that
immediately after this life became ?????? or it
was not seen to move afterwards V (1 -4.
At about four o’clock the tide had so far receded its to leave the monster dry on the beach. An immense crowd now ;gathered round it to take a view of the strange visitor to our shores. Its dimensions were taken, and it was found, to be 47 feet long. Its girth is 30 feet, the length of its mouth 9 feet, and the breadth of its tail 10 feet I inches. The back is of a slate-prey colour, and its belly white. It has a dorsal fin which is not large in comparison with the size of the animal, and is pointed, the point being directed backwards. There can therefore be little doubt but that it is a Northern Rorqual, or a genus of catacea, of the same family to which the Greenland whale belongs. If our conjecture that it is a Northern Rorqual be correct, it is the largest species of the catacea, and indeed of all animals
at present existing in the world. When full grown this species sometimes exceed:, 100 feet in length. The one just captured oil our coast is no doubt a young one, but what its age is it is impos-
sible to form any correct opinion. It is chiefly found in the Arctic seas, but it visits also those of the northern temperate regions, and is occasionally seen on the coast of Britain. Excellent photographs were taken of the one on our beach on Sunday afternoon, by Mr. Wain. A picture of it was procured from two or three different positions—one being of its whole length and another of its head.
On Monday and Tuesday efforts were made to get it higher up on the beach, and beyond the
reach of the tide at high water, but they were of
no avail. The monster could not be moved, ‘out during Tuesday night there was an unusually high tide, which lifted it and carried it about three hundred yards southward, dragging the anchor with it. It was most fortunate that it was anchored, or otherwise it would have been carried some distance away, though there was no danger of its being carried out to sea. Until Tuesday night it lay on the beach opposite the Pleasure Gardens, but it was then carried to nearly opposite the pull-over, and it now lies there in a higher and better position.
On Wednesday an unexpected occurrence took place. It appears that whales are, considered royal fish, like sturgeons and porpoises, and according to the law of England, if they are caught or found within the territorial sea—that i3, within the limit of three miles from the shore; or in the inner seas, a5 g
distinuished from ro the open sea distinguishe
belong to the Crown. On Wednesday Mr. Colbeck, chief officer of the coastguard, stationed at Skegness, claimed and took possession of the whale on behalf of the Board of Trade. It is hoped, however, that after exercis- ing its right to it, the Crown will give it up to Messers. Storr, S mal le y and Rose, who are deserving” the prize for the labour and pains they have bestowed on it, and that they will be able to preserve it for a time to exhibit it to the numerous visitors to our seaside resort during the next few days. On Tuesday they commenced taking out its inside and stuffing it with straw, and also took other necessary steps to preserve it, but since the Government took possession of it nothing further has been clone.
We understand that a whale was caught at Skegness about forty years ago, and beached ago
the old boat house; that after its owners had secured its blubber and a few other of the most valuable parts of it, the carcase was turned out to sea. That, however, must have been a much smaller one than the one now on viow here, otherwise it could not have been so easily disposed of without cutting it up. We are also informed that after it was turned adrift to sea it was subsequently washed ashore near where the present pull-over is, that its carcase was buried there in the sands, that a few years of ter the sand was washed away leaving the bones dry on the beach, and that the bones were broken up and sold. Therefore the one caught on Sunday last is not

the first whale that has been captured at Skegness- ness, and it is very probable that there are more of these monsters iii German Ocean. 0 The whale previously caught here was not we understand claimed by the Government, nor the one landed at Boston some years ago, the skeleton
of which is now iii Whale Museum at
In the Herald of last week we gave ail account of the capture of a whale at our favourite seaside resort, and we now lay before our readers and the public generally some further particulars respecting this monster of the deep. We stated in our last impression that it had been claimed and taken possession of by the Government, and it was not until early on Friday morning last that it was handed back to the captors, Messrs. J. R. Storr, T. Smalley and J. Rose. From Wednesday morning until early on Friday morning; it was in the possession of Mr. Colbeck, chief officer of the coastguards, on behalf of the Board of Trade. During these two days frequent communications were taking place between the captors and the head quarters at Lynn, and great disappointment was felt at the prospect
of the whale not being exhibited to the excursionists and visitors to Skegness during the Easter holidays. When, however, it became known that Mesirs. Storr & Co.had regained possession of i
it the greatest satisfaction was expressed, for it was felt that the exhibition of the extroardinary animal or fish—which it is we are unable to say, and believe that naturalists are unable to decide the point — would be the means of a large influx of visitors to our

town. That this has been the case has been proved beyond doubt. Though the monster was handed back to the captors, yet this was not done until they had offered a price for it and purchased it of the Government. Mr. Colbeck, acting under instructions, offered it for sale to several probable purchasers, and obtained several offers for it. Before the Government took possession of it Messrs. Storr, Smalley and Rose had gone to considerable. expense in advertising that the whale would be on exhibition on the beach during the Easter holidays. Many

hundreds of large posters had b-..3n printed and sent to all the towns on the Great Northern Railway from which excursion trains would come. They were therefore almost bound to purchase the animal at any price or otherwise they would not only lose many pounds in advertising, &c., but also give any other purchaser the advantages of their labour and expense. Consequently they offered the highest sum for it, and it was sold to them, and this, too, just in time to exhibit it to the excursionists on Good Friday.
Canvas was placed round it, and it has since remained on exhibition at the Iow price of threepence each which was considered by nearly all the trippers as being a very moderate charge. The majority of the excursionists during the holidays have paid for admission to see the monster ; in fact, it has been the great attraction this Easter. There has been nearly four thousand more persons to Skegness this Easter than visited our watering-place at this period last year, and we can only attribute this large increase to the great attraction the whale has caused. The whole of the trains rail by the Great Northern Railway Company came in heavily laden, and in one respect it is a matter of regret that the Government should have interfered with the monster thus causing a loss of two days’ exhibition to the public. There was great uncertainty on Thursday as to whether it would be on exhibition during the holidays, and consequent-
ly the Great Northern Was unable to make such elaborate arrangements in regard to excursions as it otherwise would have done. We understand that Mr. Cockshott telegraphed to Mr. Tucker-man, the station master, respecting the matter on Thursday, but being unable to get a reply in the affirmative, no extraordinary arrangements were made as to the excursion traffic. Had Mr. Tuckerman been able to have given a different reply there would have been several more excursions run on Easter Tuesday, but however this may be there is every reason to believe that the captors have had a tolerably good harvest, and some thousands of people have had an opportunity of witnessing what is rarely seen on the British coast.
On Tuesday night in last week about half of the inside of the animal was taken out, and it was intended to take tho whole of it out forthwith, but the Government coming in and taking possession put a stop to the work. It has, however, since been resumed, and completed, and 16 cwt of salt and salt-petre obtained from Mr. Slater of Boston, together with chemicals put in its inside and which has been sewn up. Since then there has not been the least offensive smell proceeding from it, and it will apparently keep for many days longer. Attempts are being made to induce the Great Northern Railway Company to run more excursion trains to Skegness to give the public an oportunity of seeing the whale, before it is disposed of and removed from the beach. We understand that there are no means Of preserving it from putrefaction for any great
length of time, but if this could have been done for the present season only it would undoubtedly have proved the greatest attraction to visitors. attempts have been made to preserve huge animals whole, but they have all failed.
Mr. Story has received a large number
large of
letters and telegrams from gentlemen in all parts of the kingdom making enquiries respecting the whale, and these include eminent naturalists, the authorities at the British Museum, the Norwich Museum, Professor Struthers (professor of anatomy at Aberdeen University who is considered one of the greatest authorities on whales in the kingdom) ; Dr. Reid from the West Norfolk and Lynn Hospital, Kings Lynn ; T. Southwell Esq., Norwich Hospital, and W. H. Fowler Esq., a director of the British Museum
&C. Several naturalists have been here specially to see it, and it has been proved beyond doubt that it is a Northern Rorqual, a species of the Greenland whale, and one of the largest
in the world. We stated last week that we believed it vi as a Northern Rorqual, and our conjecture has since been fully confirmed by those who are eminently qualified to form an opinion. It is no doubt a very g youn one, as this species
usually yon to about one hundred feet in length, and this one is only forty-seven, though it seems a monster. It is supposed to be nearly thirty tons in weight, and though half embedded in the sand the visible portion of its body is about four feet above the ground. A portion of the whale bone has been cut out and sold in small pieces at one shilling each, great numbers being desirous of having some momento of it.
The whale is still on exhibition on the beach and will remain so some days longer. To-morrow (Saturday) the Great Northern Railway Company will run excursion trains from a large number of places to give the public another opportunity of seeing the monster, as will be seen by advertisement in another column.
********************018/019 are pics of advert
********020 wants rephotographing
On Tuesday afternoon it was sold by public auction presence of a

by Mr. G. H. Cash, in the
large assemblage. The auctioneer remarked, at the commencement of the auction, that this sale was of a unique character, and that he knew of no record of a whale being sold by public auction. The first bid for the whale was £5 and though the competition lay chiefly between two persons the g biddin soon ran up to £30, at which price it
was knocked down to Mr. Fulton, of Hull, whose intention is, we believe, to take it to that town and get its frame preserved and keep it for exhibition. It has been embedded four or five feet in the sands and the mode which is being adopted to get it removed, is the digging of a canal from

where the whale lies out to low water. Means are to be adopted to keep the canal free of water until everything is ready to float the monster. The water will then be let in, and at high tide the whale will be floated and hauled out to sea, and taken in tow by a steam tug and towed to the- Humber. This is expected to take place today (Friday) when we shall probably see the last
of what has now become known as “the Skegness
whale.” Thirty or forty men are engaged in cut- ting
the canal, and there is a probability of difficulties having to be encountered before it will be removed from the beach.
At the close of the auction on Tuesday Mr. Wain took another photograph of the whale with the auctioneer, his son, and the captors (Messrs. Story, Smalley and Rose) standing on the animal.
The whale has been removed from our beach, and so far as Skegness is concerned the sensation it has caused during the last three weeks has come to ail end. Its departure on Sunday evening, in tow of a steam tug, was witnessed by severalhundred persons. As it could not be preserved for exhibition here during the season its removal from our shores was greatly desired. Though it could not yet be said to be offensive, still to many who had rather sensitive nasal organs it was considered to be
, a nuisance. We stated last week that getting
the mode to be adopted to get it afloat was to dig a kind of canal, but this rather expensive method was dispensed with. The sand was dug out on the water side of the animal to the level of the under part of its body, and then it was slowly rolled down to the water’s edge at low water. This was a slow process, and the work of three or four days, but it was accomplished by about noon on Saturday, and it was intended to tow it off by a steam tug at high water at seven o’clock
tug hig
Sunday morning. A steamer from Hull came here for that purpose, and would probably have succeeded in then getting the monster off had not the tow-rope broken. This mishap occasioned some delay. No further attempt was made until the next tide, between six and seven o’clock in the evening, In the meantime another and stronger rope was obtained, and at half-past six on Sunday evening, the whale was got afloat and
taken northward, from which direction that day three weeks it had undoubtedly come. As we have already said, its departure was witnessed by a large number of persons, but it was now curiosity only that attracted them to the beach. That day three weeks the excitement was intense. It was then a living whale, a huge monster of the deep, on our shore, opening its tremendous mouth, splashing its tail about, and spouting water.
Such a sight as this is seldom
especially so near the shore and on the English coast, and it is one which will not quickly be forgotten by those who saw it. We understand that it is intended to be exhibited at Hull for a short time, or as long as it can be kept without becoming a nuisance.


In Land and Water of Saturday last there ap-
peared a long article on the whale, from the pen of Henry Lee, Esq., an eminent naturalist, and a great authority on whales. After some introductory remarks respecting his visit to Skegness the day after Easter Tuesday, the writer makes some complimentary allusions to our watering-place, in the course of which he says—” Skegness is in summer a favourite seaside resort of visitors from the Midland counties, and I know of no place upon our coasts more likely to restore and invigorate the health of a tired town worker and his family than Skegness, with its fine bracing air from the North Sea. Large sums of money have evidently been recently expended on town improvements, and on the increase of its attractions. It has respectable hotels and some superior looking “apartments,” and I hope that the inhabitants will have a profitable return for their spirited policy.” The writer then proceeds: —
On arriving at our destination we made our way to the shore, and soon perceived the temporary location of the object of our visit. Owing to the accumulation of sand the line of ordinary high water mark is nearly a furlong out from the parade, and there the whale lay, just as it was stranded, for its enormous weight precluded its being moved to a more convenient situation. To prevent any ” Peeping Tom ” obtaining a view of it without having, previously disbursed three pence for the privilege of doing so, its captors had surrounded the whale with a fencing of canvas, stretched on posts, and having cheerfully paid our modest entrance fee we were admitted to the presence of the mighty dead. My first sensation was one of disappointment, for the whale was to a great extent embedded in the sand. As it lay upon its back the blow-hole and the dorsal fin were out of sight, and quite inaccessible, and this prevented my taking several details of measure-
ment which I should have liked to ascertain and record. We were able, however, to identify it as
one of the fin-whales, known as the razor-back, or common rorqual, Balxnoptera -musculits. It was a young female, and probably not quite adult, for its total length was 47ft., whereas a full-grown individual of this species is known to attain to 70f t. or more. From the position in which it lay, the longitudinal plaits, or furrows, in the white skin of the throat and belly were well exhibited. They are characteristic of this family, which derives its name from them, the Norse words,
qual ” and ” ror,” signifying a ” whale with plaits.” The plates of baleen, or whalebone, surrounding the mouth, which in the rorqual are small and of little value, had nearly all been cut away and sold, in small pieces, as souvenirs, to visitors. We next learned, to our great regret, that we should not have the pleasure of anatomizing the whale, as its owner had decided to
it as long as possible for further urther exhibi.
tion. For this purpose, it had already been dis- embowelled, and 16cwt. of salt and saltpetre had been distributed in the cavity. Tile whole surface of the skin had also been washed with a solution of boracic acid, and these had acted so effectually as preservatives that not the slightest odour was perceptible, though the whale had been dead ten days. Of course, it was impossible to blame the owner for desiring to prolong the exhibition of his prize as much as possible, for I was told that £60 had been taken during the holidays in threepenny payments. It only remained for us, therefore, to make preparations for our departure, after a chat with Mr. Storr, the manager of the local steamboat company, who, with the assistance of two boatmen, had succeeded in driving the great animal ashore. From his description, and from a full account in the Skegness Herald (the editor Of which I have also to thank for his kind courtesy), I am able to give the following particulars of its capture :
An account of the capture of the whale, the particulars of which have appeared in the Herald, is then given. Reffering to the captors j
overboard and putting a rope round the whale’s tail, Mr. Lee says that ” they showed a very
plucky fight, for all these fin-whales are regarded
as the most pugnacious of their kind. Although

they are often seen in shoals off Peterhead, one of the head-quarters of whalers, where boats and gear and experienced men are always at hand, no attempt is made to catch them. The oil and b-deen???????? of one of these whales are not of sufficient value to pay for the risk and trouble incurred in its capture. On the first Sunday in January, 1876, a school of ” fingers ” ran into Downy Voe, north of Lerwick, after herrings. Six boats gave chase, but the whales showed fight and drove them ashore. One boat was struck and upset, and the crew had a narrow escape from drowning. The whales remained for some days in undisputed possession of the Voe, the fishermen being afraid to venture in pursuit of them, or even to follow their usual calling in their small boats. I shall draw a veil over the sufferings of the unfortunate whale at Skegness after it was stranded. Rifle bullets were fired into it, and other means were used to extinguish its life, but it survived for three hours, till 2 p.m. I was glad to learn that it had lasted no n loger in pain, for whales, being lung-breathing animals, will live for many clays out of water if the blow-hole be kept moistened.”
We hope to be able to give an excellentview Of the Skegness whale in
our next issue.
****************026 IS THE IMAGE OF WHALE
We are enabled, through the kindness of Mr. E. A. Jackson, to present to our readers this week a view of the whale captured on our beach on Sunday, April 3rd. It is from an
engraving in the possession of Mr. Jackson, who greatly disabled the monster by firing ruled who in the picture with a rifle in his hand. Mr. Storr, Mr.
shots into it, and w appears
Smalley and Mr. Rose the actual captors will also be recognized. The engraving is from a
photograph taken about two hours after the whale had expired, and as soon as possible
after people tide had so far receded as to leave it dry on the beach. There was a large poss
crowd of ple present at the time, as will be seen from the picture. We may again state
that it was -17 feet long, a youngfemale rorqual and a species of the largest whale, which 1, when
full grown averages about 70 feet in length. After leaving been exhibited on the beach a few

weeks, and seen by many thousands of visitors, it was sold by public auction, by Mr. G.
H. Cash, of Skegness and Wainfleet. It was purchased by Mr. Fulton, of Hull, to which
place it was soon removed, and has since been exhibited to the public in one of the dry docks at that port. The following paragraphs appeared in two contemporaries respecting
the sale of the whale :—
Mr. G. II. Cash, the well-known auctioneer, Wainfleet, Spilsby, and Skegness, had the honour of selling by I ublic auction one of the monsters of the deep. The sale took place on the beach near Hildred’s Pullover. The whale was captured on Sunday morning, April 3rd, by Messrs J. R. Story, W. Rose, and T. Smalley, and was exhibited during the Eastery

holidays at a nominal charge attracting thousands of visitors to this very popular seaside resort. The auctioneer in his opening remarks said it rarely fell to the lot of anyone iii capacity to offer such a monster, and a similar sale might not occur again in his lifetime. There was a large company present and after a brisk competition the whale was
knocked down to Mr. W. Fulton, of Hull, for the magnificient sum of 30 guineas. Immedi- ately after the sale the auctioneer, his son, and the owners were photographed, standing on the whale, by Mr. Wain, the well-known Photographer.— Vide The Daily News, April 21st, 1887.
It is not often a whale forms the it eligible property ” that an auctioneer offers for the bids of investors. It will be remembered that a short time ago a whale was stranded at Skegness, to the admiration, cast on ish m, all d delight of this quiet watering-place. We learn that on Thursday last Mr. G. H. Cash, the well-know auctioneer of Waintleet, Spilsby, and Skegness, sold by public auction one of the monsters of the deep. The sale took place on the beach, near Hildred’s Pullover. Apparently it was in one lot, and we suppose cards to view had been duly distributed. One can readily y believe Mr Cash’s statement that it is only once in a life-time that an
auctioneer has such a property to sell. There appears to have been a large company present, and after a brisk competition the whale was knocked down to Mr. W. Fulton, of Hull, for the sum of 30 guineas. Not having L marked particular, and not having the acre-

age or rateable value of the lot, together with
fact that our experience of whales is extremely limited, we are unable to form all opinion as to the evidence of value on this occasion. — Vide The Metropolitan Journal,
23rd, 1887.


Top picture of the 1887 Whale appeared in the Skegness News 10th August 1988

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