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Hunt on to replace a battered great whale in King's Lynn




A much-loved feature of the community is in need of replacement after 15 plus years due to rotting and vandalism.

The iconic Great Whale sculpture on Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green was carved from a single oak tree trunk in 2005 by the late chain-saw artist Ben Platt-Mills.

Weighing in at 3.5 tonnes, the sculpture represents the area’s long connection with Lynn’s past whaling industry.

The iconic Great Whale sculpture on Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green has reached the end of its natural life and has to be replaced. Picture: SUBMITTED (42296360)
The iconic Great Whale sculpture on Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green has reached the end of its natural life and has to be replaced. Picture: SUBMITTED (42296360)

But now the Harding’s Pits Community Association (HPCA) has begun working with chainsaw artists Tree Sculpture, to come up with another whale replacement or an equally iconic feature.

The association is open to ideas and suggestions from the local community, and will require some funding for it due to a “very limited budget”.

HPCA chairman Rob Archer estimates that replacing the feature, which also includes a popular shelter and bench with views over the town and the River Ouse, will cost £10,000-£12,000 once the cost of crane hire and removing the current sculpture are factored in.

The iconic Great Whale sculpture on Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green has reached the end of its natural life and has to be replaced. Picture: SUBMITTED (42296358)
The iconic Great Whale sculpture on Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green has reached the end of its natural life and has to be replaced. Picture: SUBMITTED (42296358)

Mr Archer said: “It’s reached the end of it’s natural life really. Vandalism does not help and it is need of replacement.

“If it disappeared people would notice it as it’s been there for nearly 20 years as a defining feature.

“It was looked at by a tree sculptor and there were problems with rot as well.”

The iconic Great Whale sculpture on Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green has reached the end of its natural life and has to be replaced. Picture: SUBMITTED (42296362)
The iconic Great Whale sculpture on Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green has reached the end of its natural life and has to be replaced. Picture: SUBMITTED (42296362)

The sculpture has been visible to people arriving in town from South Lynn and on the National Cycle Network, as well as bus passengers on Harding’s Way.

Mr Archer continued: “I think everyone will want another Great Whale but we are open to suggestions.

“As the South Lynn community grows, Harding’s Pits is becoming more and more important as a public open space – which the pandemic lockdown has highlighted.

“We feel committed to maintaining this special place – but this time we really need local individuals, businesses or organisations who share our passion for Lynn to help us replace our iconic centrepiece.

“We want to hear from everyone – young people especially. It needs to be replaced with something that stands out and reflects the unique history of the area.”

Andy Ish, who is one of the artists at the Suffolk-based cooperative Tree Sculpture, said: “We would like to recreate Ben’s whale – but each tree we work with has its own individual character – and it’s not until you start work that you find the sculpture inside.”

The Great Whale was designed along with other sculptures at the site as part of a project with South Lynn schoolchildren.

It is nearly 20 feet high and has been described as the “defining mark” of the Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green.

West Norfolk councillor Alex Kemp, who represents South and West Lynn, said she has been asked to contribute to the paths at Harding's Pits from her member's budget, but she only has about £750 left.



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