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21st August 2020

Our thanks go to Yvette Grindley for sharing this fascinating but sad story of what sounds like a beluga whale.

Yvette Grindley was researching her family history and came across this story about a whale and Messrs Skelton Bros in the Hull Daily Mail dated 31 August 1891.

Skelton Bros were Richard and Robert Skelton who were divers and wreck raisers. They were well known in Hull because they would be called upon to retrieve bodies from sunken vessels in the Humber as well as the vessels.

Today we would probably call them salvagers.

Their home and office was located on James Street near Witham. Another reason they might have called upon Richard Skelton is because in 1859 he sailed up to the Davis Straights, Greenland in a whaling ship called Aeolus. Therefore, he had experience of whaling.

There is a wooden model of the ship in the maritime museum. I feel so sorry for the whale but if it had beached, there's not much they could have done to help it. It wouldn't surprise me to find that parts of it had been consumed in some way.

It is thought the whale could have been a Beluga or an Albino.

A belugas whale

Here is the wording in the paper:


A large white whale was captured in the Humber on Saturday night. Mr G. Harrison and Mr Charles Turner were shooting on the bank at Saltend about 7.p.m. when they saw a large object in the water close to the shore.

On going to see what it was they found it to be a large white whale. A species very rare in the neighbourhood.

They fired upon it but the ordinary cartridges which they used seemed scarcely to make an impression on its tough hide. One of the sportsmen stood by while the other went for assistance to Messers Skelton Bros, who manned a boat, and with all the necessary tackle, and with the aid of explosive cartridges, put an end to the whale's career.

The monster, who is a fine specimen of a white whale, showed plenty of game, and threw water and dirt up to a height of 30 feet. It was ultimately landed in Marfleet drain at midnight after 5 hours hard work on the part of those engaged in the capture.