World of whal­ing’s im­pact on Dundee

The Courier & Advertiser (Perth and Perthshire Edition) - - NEWS -

For more than 130 years, the whal­ing in­dus­try was of vi­tal im­por­tance to Dundee.

Whale oil was used for light­ing, soap, in women’s fash­ion and also in the jute in­dus­try; for a time, it was in­dis­pens­able.

At the height of demand for whale­bone, it changed hands on the quay­side for up to £3,000 a ton.

The in­dus­try was lu­cra­tive and the men who signed on with the whale com­pa­nies around Dundee’s docks of­ten earned more in one Arc­tic sea­son than in sev­eral years of work in the mills.

How­ever, whal­ing was an in­cred­i­bly dan­ger­ous and phys­i­cally de­mand­ing en­deav­our and the men cer­tainly earned their money.

A sin­gle whale could yield up to a ton of whale­bone and the blub­ber could pro­duce as much as 7,000 gal­lons of mar­ketable oil af­ter it was boiled.

How­ever by 1913 min­eral oil, which was a great deal cheaper, had started to take whale oil’s place – this was a fac­tor in the de­cline of the in­dus­try.

Arc­tic whal­ing came to a close in Dundee just be­fore the Great War in 1914.

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