John Lewis Temple

(1830–1854)

In 1986 the killing of whales for profit was banned.  This was done because the whales were deemed to be an endangered species.

In the early part of the nineteenth century this was not the case and the whaling industry flourished.  The companies involved in the business were always looking for new and more efficient methods of catching their prey.  Temple was a blacksmith and part of his work was the making of harpoons.  In 1848 Temple, then only 18 years of age, invented a new type of harpoon.   When the harpoon became embedded in the whale the shaft would turn at right angles to the hook and lock in position.

The result of this innovation, called “The Temple Toggle” was a tremendous increase in catch levels.  In 1926 it was described as, “The most important single invention in the whole history of whaling.”

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