Whalebones set for Seahouses harbour move despite 'upset' felt by school

Plans to place historic whalebones at Seahouses harbour are set to go ahead despite objections from the village school.

Thursday, 8th October 2020, 6:00 am

The 19th century bones, believed to be those of a Greenland right whale, were recently gifted to North Sunderland Parish Council by Northumberland County Council.

They were in the grounds of the former first school until they went missing in December 2018, later found dumped near North Sunderland Football Club, and had been in storage until last month.

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Historic whalebones are set to be placed at Seahouses harbour.

Cllr Geoffrey Stewart, parish council chairman, said: “We’ve got the whalebones here now and they’re in a container at the harbour.

"On July 27 the county council’s executive team came to a decision to pass the whalebones into the custody of North Sunderland Parish Council to put on display in the harbour area on the condition that Seahouses school is given due recognition in any signage or information relating to the whalebones.”

Cllr David Donaldson said: “At least now everyone will be able to see them. If they had been positioned on a secure school site no members of the public would have been able to see them.”

Cllr Sylvia Hillan said: “Quite a lot of people want them at the harbour.”

Whalebones in the grounds of the former Seahouses First School.

However, school governor Shirley Rutter, who was office manager for 26 years, told members how much consternation the issue had caused.

She said: “I don’t think anything will make a difference now because it seems that the decision has been made, although I don’t think they had all the information.

"Everyone cares very much about the whalebones. No-one forgot about them or didn’t want them.

"We, as a school, looked after them for a very long time and we do feel very upset about the whole thing.

Seahouses harbour.

"We didn’t know anything about what was going on and I think that is the worst part of it. It was such a shock when we discovered what was happening

"I am very sorry it has come to this and just hope that in the new site they are looked after as they have been. It wasn’t our fault they got stolen.

"We can’t take it up with the county council any more than we have up to this point. There has been talk of legal action but I don’t know whether that will happen or not.”

Cllr Maureen Bramley said: “There is nothing we can do now. It wasn’t up to us, it was the county council. We now need to move on from this and see how we can make best use of the situation.”

The whalebones were stolen and later dumped near North Sunderland Football Club.

The council also plans to seek quotes to remove the remaining part of the whalebones from concrete holes in the grounds of the former school.

"They’re certainly a lot shorter than they used to be but it might be possible to put the pieces together,” said Cllr Donaldson.

They are thought to date from the 1820s or 1830s and lay in a farm barn in North Sunderland for many years before being erected at the school in the early 1930s.

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