This fascinating book is the first to describe comprehensively the history of the whaling station located on the west coast of Harris in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland.
It starts with the ‘royal fish’ and subsistence whaling and moves on to the introduction by Norwegians at the beginning of the twentieth century of modern whaling techniques with ships equipped with harpoon guns, and the effect on the local population and economy. It follows with the consequences of the First World War and unfavourable trading conditions, and the whaling station’s sale in 1922 to the industrial magnate Lord Leverhulme and his grandiose ideas for experimentation. Finally, after closure in 1928, it describes the station’s partial but short-lived resurrection under joint Norwegian and British management in 1950, to its final demise caused by the decline in North Atlantic whale populations and alternative sources of relatively cheaply procured Antarctic whale oil and vegetable oils.
In this meticulously researched and lavishly illustrated book, author Ian Hart tells a story which is also tinged with tragedy and severe consequences for the natural world. It not only describes the history of whaling from Harris but perhaps serves as a warning that we should treat our fellow mammals on this planet with more compassion, care and understanding.