Capture of a whale

This whale beached in March 1891.

The people who first spotted it would never have encountered anything like it before.

A Blue Whale skeleton

Many newspapers reported the whale's presence, describing the commotion the animal had caused in Wexford.

The reports included this one, published in the Liverpool Mercury on 30 March 1891.

She floundered in shallow water for some time.

A crew of lifeboat pilots rowed out towards the enormous mammal, the like of which none of them would ever have encountered before.

The group beat the whale with metal bars in a crude attempt to slay her.

The final blow was dealt by a man called Ned Wickham, when he plunged an improvised harpoon under one of the flippers.

A Blue Whale skeleton

The carcass was bought by an enterprising Wexford man called William Armstrong for £111. The oil was collected in 14 drums holding around 205 litres each, and the meat was sold as pet food. Whale oil was valuable at the time, meaning Armstrong stood to make a fortune.

Image credits:

Newspaper cutout, 1891 © The British Library Board