In a comment about
I mentioned that it had formerly known as Whale Brae,
and that I had been told that it got this name "Because some
fool tried to drag a whale up it".
This prompted Bryan Gourlay to write:
whale up Whale Brae on Newhaven Road is not
such not a far fetched story
One Saturday, around 50 years ago,
my dad got a call to say they urgently
needed his help on the beach just to the west of Fisherrow
harbour, near Musselburgh.
When we got there, there was a
sizeable, young whale stranded well up the beach - stone-cold
dead, surrounded by a big crowd of locals.
The immediate task was to get it off
the beach as it was stinking to high-heaven, and the local kids
were about to get up to no good with the smelly carcass.
The lorry was duly reversed on to the
beach, and strong planks of wood placed
up against the rear, to slide the whale up on to the platform.
Ropes were put round the whale's body and a number of able-bodied
men were coerced into dragging the heavy whale, inch by inch,
across the sand and up the plank, until it was on the back of the
Once there, it was tightly roped down,
so it didn't create chaos by falling off on the journey to the
Royal Museum in Chambers Street that had volunteered to take it
Of course, there was no room for its
tail which had to hang over the back.
As you can imagine, we created quite a stir on the drive
through the city - pavements full of people not quite believing
what they were seeing, particularly with the whale's tail flapping
The most startled individuals were
passengers sitting downstairs on the tram. There they were,
minding their own business, when a whale passed them by at eye
level on the inside (wagging its tail) or even worse, drew up and
parked alongside them at the traffic lights with its beady eye
fixed on them. 'Gobsmacked' is
the only word that comes to mind.
The whale was lifted off by crane at
the back of the museum, and was last seen disappearing inside,
where the boffins no doubt had plans for it.
Maybe bits if it are still in there?
After all, most of the stuffed animals and birds, in the glass
cases, are the same ones that were there in the 1940s and 1950s.
It was a week, or more, before the
lorry lost its 'fishy' smell . . .
Bryan Gourlay, Biggar,
Lanarkshire, Scotland: November 14, 2006