Image credit: Cumbria Wildlife Trust, February 2014
In February 2014 walkers on the Cumbrian west coast, near Drigg, discovered the remains of a large whale, washed up on the beach. Whilst this was tragic ending to the whale's journey - it was the start of the story of bringing Driggsby to Tullie House.
The specimen was recovered from the beach later in 2014, by which time the tides, a storm and nature had scattered some of the bones and most of the flesh. The remaining specimen was buried in remote woodland to allow for natural decomposition.
In late 2015 the first bones were brought to the museum, where they were cleaned up by the Tullie House team and began to be used with visitors and school groups to teach them about whales and specifically, the Tullie Whale which was patiently decomposing somewhere near Penrith.
In April 2016 a team from the museum went to collect the remaining bones to bring them back to Tullie, and we launched a campaign to 'Name the Whale'. At this point we had not been able to investigate the specimen properly and it was thought, based on its size, that the skeleton had belonged to a sei whale, the third largest whale in the ocean.
Further scientific investigation revealed that the whale was in fact a young, female, fin whale, the second largest whale (after the blue whale). Fin whales are frequent visitors to the west coasts of Irelend and Scotland, but are not common in Cumbrian waters. The naming campaign settled on the name Drigg - after the beach where she was found - which has morphed into the affectionate 'Driggsby'.
Meanwhile a team of volunteers spent a hot summer cleaning the bones, getting them ready for display. Missing bones were recreated using 3D modelling and printing and the specimen was expertly prepared for display.
In January 2017 Driggsby was moved into pride of place in the Tullie House atrium, with a brand new viewing gallery installed in the Border Galleries for visitors to learn more about whales and their relatives.
As part of our 125th anniversary celebrations curator Simon and CBDC manager Deb recall the process of bringing Driggsby to Tullie House.
Driggsby is now an inspiration and firm favourite with our visitors. She has inspired an ambitious project, 'Whale Tales', working with school children in West Cumbria to reimagine and create a story and exhibition based on her story.
Tullie House's work towards the display of Driggsby was ground breaking and has gone on to inform other museums, you can find out more about that here