Just when you thought it was safe…

Thursday, 30th April 2009 by

Headington, a suburb of the famous university city of Oxford, is the only known habitat of the aerial shark, a rare but fearsome predator that dives on its unsuspecting victims from heights of over a quarter of a mile. Incredibly, Google’s Street View car has managed to capture the aftermath of a horrific aerial shark attack!


Okay, we made that up. This 25ft-long shark is actually made out of fibreglass1, and was thrust through the roof of number 2 New High Street in 1986 in the name of art. Bill Heine, who commissioned the sculpture and still owns the house, says he did it “to express someone feeling totally impotent and ripping a hole in their roof out of a sense of impotence and anger and desperation… It is saying something about CND, nuclear power, Chernobyl and Nagasaki.”


The shark has since become a local landmark, but it nearly didn’t survive: soon after it was erected, Oxford City Council ruled that putting a shark through your roof without planning permission simply wouldn’t do, and ordered it to be taken down. Bill appealed, and in a rare show of common sense, the government decided it could stay2.

Unfortunately, when the Street View image was captured, the house was covered in scaffolding. To see it in all its glory, go to the official shark site.

Thanks to Cyan and Julian.

  1. The shark sadly lacks a head, the interior space of the building instead being used for the supporting structure. 

  2. The official documents (PDF file) make for bizarrely entertaining reading, with the Secretary of State noting carefully that “It is not in dispute that the shark is a large and prominent feature in the street scene”.