World of whaling’s impact on Dundee
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.