Iconic Headington shark house for rent

Headington shark
Headington shark house can be yours for $3,500 a month; photo by Amily

A shark lover's dream house?

A residence in Headington, England, is making news this week in part because it's being advertised for rent, but mostly because of the 25-foot fiberglass shark protruding, tail-toward-the-sky, from its roof.

This iconic landmark home could be yours for about $3,500 per month, or $800 per week.

Headington shark
Shark sculpture being installed by crane in 1986; photo via Headington, Oxford

That's more than what most homes are renting for in the east Oxford suburb. But this three-bedroom house is newly remodeled, and anyone who moves in will automatically become the center of attention.

States part of the advertisement, from realtor Scott Fraser:

"Suitable for a family who are passionate about being involved with the local community and who will enjoy not only living in, but living with the famous Headington shark."

Naturally, the British press has seized the opportunity to place this house back in the spotlight, and to generate witty headlines.

From the Guardian, playing on the famous line in the 1970s thriller, "Jaws": "Oxford shark house put up for rent–they're going to need a bigger ad."

But to outsiders, the real story might be the shark itself: how it ended up as part of the roof at 2 New High Street, and how the imposing sculpture has survived for more than four decades.

The shark, which is headless, first made headlines when it was installed overnight on August 9, 1986, on the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki, Japan.

It was American owner Bill Heine's way of protesting the nuclear threat.

Of Heine's sentiments, the Guardian wrote: "As in 'Jaws,' nowhere is safe."

Oxford city council members tried several times to have the shark removed–in once instance claiming that it posed a threat to public safety–but their efforts have been unsuccessful.

The shark has its own page on the Headington website. A passage sums: "And so it has survived. No one living in Headington notices it much anymore, but it has caused a tremendous stir both locally and nationally on the day it appeared. It had been winched up by a crane overnight, and although the police were aware of what was going on they were powerless to do anything, as there is no law to prevent a man from putting a shark on his own roof."

There is, however, the tricky matter of renting a property with such a menacing apex predator depicted as diving head-first through the roof.

One sales pitch on Fraser’s website, from a past tenant, raves about the home’s spaciousness and decor, adding:

"You quickly get used to people taking photographs outside and it does not really impact living there. On the rare occasions that we are asked about the shark the people have always been very polite and are genuinely interested in the story. It has been a lot of fun living in such a local landmark."

There was no reason given for why the home is suddenly vacant.

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