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  • Oliver Hodgson

Mystery of lost ship’s figurehead reignited by photo discovery

AN OLD photograph discovered in a Whitehaven Museum has ignited a mystery of the high seas.

The Beacon Museum's trainee curator, Alex Milner, was developing unseen negatives for the Breaking the Waves exhibition, which opened this week, when he stumbled across the find -  a picture of a female bust in an unknown garden.

“Some notes told us the pictures was taken in 1930 and the statue was previously the figurehead of a 19th century ship, Whitehaven Lass, which was wrecked at Parton in 1883. Beyond that, we had no information on where the statue was or where it could be now.

"In the image it appears to be in a garden beside a wooden shed with houses in the background. After posting it on social media, we have had dozens of suggestions that the photo was taken around Coach Road in Whitehaven.”

“We are appealing to anyone who recognises the figurehead or knows what may have happened to it, to come forward so we can piece together a larger story about the photo, the bust and the ship that it came from.”

The Breaking the Waves exhibition tells the story of Whitehaven’s seafaring past, from shipbuilding and export to the coastguard and services that kept the coastline at work. It includes challenges and interactive games and, throughout the spring months, a programme of events and activities.

Anyone with information on the figurehead, or what became of it, should get in touch with the Beacon Museum at or call 01946 592302.

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