Curiosity shop in a whale's belly

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If the Boing Boing Bazaar had a physical shop, it might look something like this. Seen here is is a vintage postcard of the Blackgang Chine Bazaar at the Isle of Wight's Blackgang Chine Amusement Park. Alexander Dabell established the amusement park in 1843, making it one of the oldest (or perhaps the oldest) theme amusement park in the United Kingdom. From the Blackgang Chine site:
(Once Dabell signed the lease), pathways were built down the ravine, through previous rough terrain, gardens were landscaped on top of the cliffs, and steps were constructed to the beach from the lower road.

But this was not enough to make Blackgang a fascinating place to visit. In 1842 a huge fin whale had been stranded off the Needles, and Alexander saw his chance.

He bought it at auction, sold off the blubber, had the bones bleached, and transported across the island to a specially built hut, in which he displayed the skeleton to the morbid curiosity of all who visited.

A gift bazaar was also opened with great success. Amelia, his wife helped in all aspects of the business and so "The Blackgang Experience" had begun.

Blackgang Chine history

Isle of Wight Historic Postcards of Blackgang Chine (via Anachronistic Decay, thanks Kirsten Anderson!)


  1. Alas, the whale skeleton no longer houses a curiosity shop but is still present in the park’s museum.

  2. My school has a giant whale skull on prominently diplayed out on the front of campus, and there are miscellaneous whale bones (ribs, vertebrae) skattered all around just begging for something like this.

  3. Alexander Dabell established the amusement park in 1843, making it one of the oldest (or perhaps the oldest) theme park in the United Kingdom

    Not to be picky, but Blackgang Chine isn’t really a “theme park” as opposed to a “amusement park” — there is no consistent theme or set of themes across the attractions. A theme park is a type of amusement park, but they aren’t synonyms.

  4. Went there two or three times as a kid (early 70s I guess) and even for a youngster it was pretty lame. Goodness knows how bored the adults got.

  5. Having washed up in 1842, it’s a wonder this wasn’t mentioned in Moby Dick. My guess is that Herman Melville simply didn’t know about it, being across the pond and having no interwebs. If he had, then he almost certainly would have made some reference to it, like he did with so many other whales (and whale carcasses) throughout history.

  6. Blackgang Chine is an utter gem. To be savored amongst us Brits. Both myself and my other half remember (separately I might add!) as kids of the early 70’s the joy of Blackgang. Most of which is still there and even our kids (with wider experiences – legoland and Chessington) absolutely adore. They love the dinosaurs (especially as the can climb on them), the crooked house, Cowboy land, Mouth of Hell to name just a few. We are always amazed at how the simple things do actually keep the kids amused, there are some bigger attraction but given the choice ours want to run around in Cowboy Land firing a cap gun just as we did in 1976, mind you they’ll want their nintendos when they get back in the car. Oh plus a Coca Cola at the White Mouse … maybe they are not so different! Make sure you visit Blackgang it’s a must.

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