Model, of whale catcher Southern Maid

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Postcard of Model, of whale catcher Southern Maid.
© National Museums Scotland

Model, of whale catcher Southern Maid

This wooden model represents the whale catcher 'Southern Maid', a steel boat used in open sea whaling operations in the Antarctic during the early 20th century. The vessel belonged to the Southern Whaling and Sealing Company, an associate of Unilever Ltd. She was built by Smith's Dock Co Ltd of South Bank-on-Tees and operated from Cape Town in South Africa.

Built to a scale of 1:16, the model shows a harpoon gun mounted on a platform at the bow. The whale-line from the harpoon passed from the bow over a grooved wheel on the mast. The line was stored in bins and paid out to a winch in the forward deck.

In the late 19th century, when whales became more scarce and oil began to be supplied by the new petroleum industry, Britain's whaling industry went into decline. In the 1920s, Britain adopted successful new Norwegian whaling methods and constructed large factory ships and large catcher boats for the new Antarctic whaling industry. However, the price of whale oil fell at the end of the 1930s. Petroleum had by then replaced whale oil in many uses and concern for whale stocks was increasing. British interest in whaling finally ceased in 1964.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-002-069-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  T.1938.L.32
Date: Model: Between 1921 and 1938; Original: 1921
What: Whaling boat / whale catcher / model
Subject: 23. SHIPPING, Fishing Boats (Departmental Classification)
Who: Southern Maid
Description: Model of the steel whale catcher "Southern Maid" of 1921, scale 1:48, in case
  • Storer, J D. Ship Models in the Royal Scottish Museum, Edinburgh: A catalogue of models representing the history of shipping from 1500 BC to the present day. Edinburgh: Royal Scottish Museum Information Series, 1985, p 77. 
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