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The London whaling trade

Introduction
Early Arctic whaling
Things to do with a dead whale
The southern whale fishery
London declines as a whaling port
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Introduction

The Spermacaeti whale brought to Greenland Dock.
View full size imageThe Spermacaeti whale brought to Greenland Dock. © NMM

For centuries whaling was an important economic activity. Many industries found ingenious and varied uses for a huge range of whale products, from oil to bone.

A whale fishery set up to meet this demand would enjoy a boom when hunting a particular species of whale in a particular area.

The Howland Great Dock near Deptford.
View full size imageThe Howland Dock, re-named Greenland Dock in 1763 and used by the London whaling fleet. © NMM

Eventually there were too few whales left to make the trade economic.

Then the industry would revive in a different area, hunting a different sort of whale, using different techniques.

For many years, the Port of London played a leading role in this trade.

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Glossary
Dock
Port

Find out more
StoriesGoing for growth: The West India and the Greenland Docks
New dockyards on the Isle of Dogs and Rotherhithe are opened to ease congestion.
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National Maritime Museum/Royal Observatory GreenwichNew Opportunities Fund 
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