OXFORD'S famous shark tomorrow celebrates 21 years of attracting curious glances and inquisitive visitors.

However, with renovation work taking longer than initially anticipated, it looks like Headington's most famous landmark will not be making an appearance on its big day.

The 25ft fibreglass structure was put up on the roof of BBC Oxford radio presenter Bill Heine's house in New High Street, Headington, on August 9, 1986, without planning permission.

After a long planning battle, Mr Heine was given permission by the then planning minister, Banbury MP Tony Baldry, to keep it.

Oxfordshire sculptor John Buckley has been visiting his work over the past month to give the shark a much needed makeover.

Mr Heine said: "It's not going to be ready for it's birthday party, but I can say that John is going to make it look like it's never looked before.

"It's been there for 21 years so it needs some attention. I don't want to spoil the surprise, but I can say this - when John first did the shark there were 20 different colours used on it in different points.

"He's been going over it for some time now and it looks absolutely stunning, an eyecatcher - that's why we are keeping it under wraps."

One person looking forward to the birthday is New High Street resident, June Whitehouse, 82, who has kept an archive on the shark since it was installed.

The 'sharkives', as they have become known, are made up of 11 folders detailing its history.

Mrs Whitehouse said: "I remember the day that it arrived, people were standing around watching as it was lowered into the roof.

"There were some people who objected to it at the time, but my first comment was 'it's his roof and if he wants to do that then it's up to him'."

Over the years Mrs Whitehouse has had visitors from all over the world come to see her archive.

She said: "I've had a lot of foreign language students ask if they can look at my files, I've even had a professor from Japan visit me and he spent hours looking through them."

Mrs Whitehouse said the most memorable event was when a group of Venture Scouts camped on the roof next to the shark.

She said: "They had a challenge to camp for 21 hours in the strangest place they could think of so they camped up on the roof by the shark - though I don't know how they slept up there."

Other residents in the street were fond of the sculpture. Tony Mendle, 52, said: "I'm so pleased that it's stood the test of time and I hope it survives for another 21 years."

While Geoff Lawrence, 41, said: "I remember when I moved into the road six years ago and how I would stare at it as I walked past it every morning.

"Six years on and nothing has changed. I still look at it as intently as I did then, I think it's absolutely fantastic."