“… an enormous whale, which had apparently fallen asleep…”

An anonymous account of a whale in King’s Lynn’s water


Port of Kings Lynn

11th April 1867

some men in a small boat with a whale
Some men in a boat with a whale

On the 21st of April 1842 Mr W Chase and three other Pilots were proceeding down to the Pilot Station in Lynn Roads in the Pilot Skiff in the dawn of the morning when they descried something in the distance which on nearer approach the found to be an enormous Whale which had apparently fallen asleep. As the tide ebbed out it came to ground but there was sufficient water for the Pilots to reach it and they did and they found it alive but it appeared that all its faculties were dormant for they lifted up the forks of its tail and put a rope over each with a running snoose and cut a piece out of his side with their pocket knives for they had nothing to kill it with. When the tide began to flow the Whale gave unmistakable signs that it did not intend to remain where it then was but was bound for its own country somewhere near the North Pole. In a few minutes he floated but in doing so turned on it’s side and they thought it was dying – Mr W Chase, having been to Greenland, as was the custom there said “Let’s give him three cheers! But they were very soon mistaken when thinking it was dying for it went off at above any Railway Speed that they might have sung “We are off to Charlestown so early in the morning”. As the day advanced two Fishing Boats went to their assistance but they could only try to retard his speed, but he never slackened one iota. He towed them so near to the ships that were coming up the channel that they could even speak to the crews as they flew past and sometimes they were afraid that they’d be one side of the Vessels and their Levianthan Steamer the other. When about two miles from Lynn he died of a broken heart and F Cresswell Esq in his yacht the “Wild Duck” and some Fishermen assisted in towing it to Lynn.

It was 45 feet in length and 18 feet in girt. And its tail from tip to tip was 11 feet. It weighed 25 tons

It was one of the most mad-brained feats that ever was done. Just imagine four solitary fellows in a boat 17 feet long making fast to the tail of such a monster and no-one near at the time to assist them. Nothing but the shallow water saved them for if the whale could only have gone down he would have taken them for company.

They made £52 in the exhibition of it, then sold it for £15

It was a regular Greenland Whale