Heritage100

Whale on a beach

Wale on a beach

..the whale was to have the final say as, after a few days, the stench of the decaying body was so overwhelming...

Whale washed ashore at Atherfield, near Chale, Isle of Wight, May 1924.

This was a fin whale or common rorqual. The appearance of a dead whale on the beach brought thousands of day-trippers from the Isle of Wight and further afield.

At one stage twenty charabancs were parked up on the Military Road near the south coast of the Island. The whale was just under fifty feet long.

The body was shown scant respect, with some visitors climbing onto the corpse to have their pictures taken and others removing part of the tail as a souvenir.

However the whale was to have the final say as, after a few days, the stench of the decaying body was so overwhelming that few visitors could get close. In the end portions of the body were sent to the British Museum, the rest is thought to have been buried in a field locally.

Quick Facts

  • Whale washed ashore at Atherfield, near Chale, Isle of Wight
  • Photograph by Digweed of Ventnor, beach photographers.
  • Photograph taken 16 May 1924
  • Photo dimensions Length 13.6cm, Width 8.7cm
  • Catalogue reference ATH 001

Facts

  • Although found not far from a local cleft called Whale Chine, the place-name predates the discovery of this whale by many years. The name may relate to an earlier whale stranding in 1758 in the same area.

Did you know?

Another fin whale was stranded at Totland Bay on the west of the Island in 1842, and the skeleton was placed on display at Blackgang Chine.

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