Pevensey’s giant whale was a major tourist attraction in 1865

Crowds gather around the giant corpse in November 1865
Crowds gather around the giant corpse in November 1865

The discovery of the remains of a whale on a Pevensey beach last week has a curious historical connection.

More than 150 years ago a mammal of the same species was washed ashore at almost exactly the same spot.

The massive 70ft (21m) finback whale was found on November 13, 1865 - and became a tourist attraction. Some 40,000 people travelled by train to inspect the corpse.

The skeleton is now on display at Cambridge University’s Museum of Zoology.

The museum’s Tracy Biram said it was “a massive deal at the time” - for most people it would have been the first time they had seen a whale.

It was also a huge specimen - the finback is the second largest species after the blue whale.

The skeleton was bought in 1866 by John Willis Clark, the museum’s superintendent. He paid £80 for it (nearly £9,000 at today’s prices).

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