Folk Art and The Whalers

What about the Whalers?

Whaling was a difficult and dangerous job. Many whalers were killed by whales upturning their boats, by accident, by illness or by suffering extreme weather in the Arctic.


Whaling could pay well once the ship was full of whale and returned to harbour. The whaler may have been away from home for up to five years and might not recognise his own children anymore. Letters to and from home would be collected from ports and other ships. This wasn’t a guaranteed system but it was the only form of contact they would have. After leaving port, a whaler might get a letter to tell him of a new son or daughter. A few years later he might get a letter to say the child he had never met had died.


Whaling, right up to modern times and especially in the Arctic, would be like working in a giant abattoir whilst simultaneously dealing with extreme weather. It is unlikely that many whalers would have enjoyed killing whales, but they would have enjoyed the thought of making money and going home. It was something many men had to do to make a living.


Document icon Learning article provided by: Hull Maritime Museum | 
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