IT HAS survived some choppy waters over the past quarter of a century.

But a party to celebrate 25 years of one of Headington’s most famous residents went swimmingly.

Since its controversial arrival in 1986 the Headington Shark has become famous around the world.

And on Tuesday the 25ft fibreglass fish celebrated its birthday with a party in New High Street.

The street party featured food, drink and a book signing with Bill Heine, the man behind the shark who has written a new book about its birth.

Hugh Turner, who has lived in Headington since 1986, said: “It was an excellent evening. There must have been more than 60 people there when I was there.

“It was quite a lively celebration and a chance to chat, reminisce and have a drink.”

Mr Turner moved into a house across the road from the sculpture, which is called Untitled 1986, just after it was put up.

Now living in Old Road, he said: “I think it is brilliant. It is a great bit of sculpture and it pulls a lot of people to the street.”

The shark was created by sculptor John Buckley and put up at the home of BBC Radio Oxford presenter Mr Heine to mark the 41st anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Nagasaki.

It became an immediate source of controversy, with Oxford City Council threatening to remove the shark by force.

This led to Mr Heine taking the issue to a public inquiry.

He was later given planning permission by then Environment Secretary Michael Heseltine who said the shark was “not gravely detrimental to visual amenity in this particular location”.

Mr Heine said: “It was a fantastic evening.

“When we put the shark up we weren’t sure it would be there for 25 hours.

“To see it there looking resplendent and bringing smiles to so many faces was special.”

  • Mr Heine’s book, The Hunting of the Shark, is available in local bookshops