The historic heart of Stanley

The Artists - John Freeman and Vicky Chater

A painting for the 

Falkland Islands

Vicky with her son Finn and His Excellency The Governor, Mr Colin Roberts

at the unveiling of the picture at the Historic Dockyard Museum in Stanley on Friday 6th Jan 2017.  

Whitby and Stanley became twin towns in 1981, at the instigation

of the then Governor, Sir Rex Hunt, who came from that area,

and wanted to recognise their shared whaling history as historic

coastal towns.  An exchange of paintings of the two whalebone

arches, by local artists, was made in 2016, to mark the 35th

anniversary of the twinning of the two towns.

A painting of the Whalebone Arch in Stanley, by Falklands artist

Vicky Chater, was personally delivered to Whitby by her, when

she also accepted the gift of this painting of the Whitby Arch by

their local artist, John Freeman.

There has been a whalebone arch on Whitby’s West Cliff, (chosen

as a site for the arch because of its proximity to the Captain

Cook monument), since around 1853, dating from Whitby’s time

as a thriving whaling port. Ships returning from the whaling

grounds of Greenland would tie a pair of jawbones to the mast

to let anxious families at home know the ship had been successful

and there were no casualties.

The jawbones were kept as souvenirs and often ended up being incorporated into the gable ends of houses or were placed in fields as rubbing posts for cattle.

One pair of jawbones was made into a decorative arch overlooking the town. In 1963, the Norwegian shipping company ‘Thor Dahl’ presented a pair of 20ft jawbones of a 113 ton fin whale, caught in the Weddell Sea in the Antarctic, by their whaling ship Thorshovdi and this arch replaced the original.

Exposure to the elements over 40 years resulted in serious deterioration of the whalebones, so there is now a third arch on the site!  The existing arch is slightly smaller (15ft), and consists of the jawbones of a bowhead whale, killed under licence by Alaskan Inuits, and unveiled in Whitby by Miss Alaska in 2003. It is not known how old that particular whale was, but the bowhead whale can live to be 200 years old. The new jawbones were a gift from another of Whitby’s twin towns, Anchorage in Alaska.