NOSTALGIA: Boston’s Whale pub and its 120-year-old Whale Room – once home to a whale skeleton

The Whale Room with landlady Dora Owston in a photograph taken earlier in the 70s.
The Whale Room with landlady Dora Owston in a photograph taken earlier in the 70s.

Among the properties lost through the construction of John Adams Way, in Boston, was The Whale pub, in Main Ridge.

Forty-five years ago, the Standard popped into the local to speak landlord and landlady Ted and Dora Owston, plus regulars, as demolition loomed.

The view up Main Ridge towards Pump Square.

The view up Main Ridge towards Pump Square.

“We still don’t know when the place is supposed to be closing,” said Ted. “The Department of the Environment told us way back in 1969 that the pub would be coming down, but they refuse to give us a definite date.”

Setting the pub apart from others was its 120-year-old Whale Room where the walls were decorated with shells and bottle necks and bases, depicting a whale’s tail, an elephant, a man shooting a boar, and many other animals.

The room took its name, it was said, from the skeleton of a whale which was once housed there. At one time, dances were held around the whale, while fiddlers would sit inside the bones of its belly. Visitors, who were charged a penny to view the whale, came from all over the world.

More recently, the room had been used for furniture sales, boxing tournaments, and as a rehearsal space for local pop groups.

The view down Main Ridge towards what is today Main Ridge East. John Adams Way, which is of course nowhere to be seen, would open in 1978.

The view down Main Ridge towards what is today Main Ridge East. John Adams Way, which is of course nowhere to be seen, would open in 1978.

Pub regular Harry Woodhall, of St Nicholas Road, said the pub should be kept for history’s sake.

“The place could be a tourist attraction – it’s unique.”

The Whale Room is pictured at the top of the page with Dora in a photograph taken earlier in the 70s.

Dora is pictured again below with regulars Ray Reason, Albert Fairhurst, and Gerry Royal.

Dora with locals Ray Reason, Albert Fairhurst, and Gerry Royal.

Dora with locals Ray Reason, Albert Fairhurst, and Gerry Royal.

The exterior shot shows the view towards what is today Main Ridge East, with John Adams Way still four years away from opening.

READ MORE: John Adams Way at 40 – an illustrated history