STRANDED: The Whales at Thorntonloch in 1950

A new book on a major event in East Lothian’s history is now for sale.

The book STRANDED: The whales at Thorntonloch in 1950. The stories of the people how were there by Dr James E Herring has been published by Dunbar and District History Society. In the book, there is a chapter on press reports of the stranding of 147 whales at Thorntonloch in May 1950 and this is followed by chapters based on interviews with 30 people from all over East Lothian and elsewhere who went to see the whales.

James Herring told LothianLoop “My neighbour tweeted the book’s publication and it was re-tweeted by LothianLoop and others, so I’m hoping that more people will follow these examples. All the profits from the book go to Dunbar and District History Society and none to me. The profits will help fund a future project on Dunbar’s outdoor pools and beaches in the 1950s”. A key aspect of the book is looking at this environmental disaster as a social event. Dr Herring explained “Hundreds of people came to see the whales over a weekend in May 1950 and the interviews I did tell us much about society in Britain in 1950. For example, some interviewees walked or cycled to Thorntonloch as very few people had a car at that time and many people could not afford the bus fare. Also, only a very small number of people had cameras in 1950, so few photographs of the event survive, although I was given some photographs by local people and they are in the book, along with press photographs. At the time of the event, there were no mobile phones or Internet and people heard of the event by word of mouth – not by text or Tweet or via a Facebook posting”.

Dr Herring on Thorntonloch Beach where the whales stranded
Dr Herring on Thorntonloch Beach where the whales stranded

The book’s publication was made possible by a grant from Community Windpower via its BeGreen office in Dunbar. The book is on sale at BeGreen’s office, the Town House and other outlets in Dunbar. The book is also available online at and Dr Herring would like LothianLoop followers to send this link far and wide.







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