House with giant shark in roof gets heritage status despite owner’s objection


The Headington Shark in Oxford, has been given a special status objections despites by the current owner Magnus Hanson-Heine who feels it is against the intended meaning of the sculpture

Bill Heine outside his house with the shark in the roof
Bill Heine outside his house with the shark in the roof

A house with a shark sticking out of the roof has been given recognized heritage status by Oxford councilors despite objection from the owner.

The shark structure made by Bill Heine and sculptor John Buckley in 1986 has become an officially recognized structure following a vote by city councillors.

The 25ft sculpture joins the Oxford Heritage Asset Register alongside 16 other local landmarks, reported OxfordshireLive.

The register is a list of places, structures and buildings that are locally significant in Oxford and have made a “special contribution to the character” of the area.

The fiberglass Headington Shark was nominated because of its “historic interest” – it was erected on the anniversary of the Nagasaki bombing – as well as its artistic merits.

The house has now been given a special status


Oxford Mail / SWNS)

Magnus Hanson-Heine is against the decision



During a meeting of Oxford City Council’s Planning Committee, councilors unanimously approved the addition of the Headington Shark to the city’s asset register.

The move comes despite the opposition of the shark’s owner, Magnus Hanson-Heine, the son of Bill Heine.

Just hours before the meeting, I posted a video to Twitter saying he was “determined” to stop it being added to the register.

“It was put up by my dad and sculptor John Buckley in 1986 on the anniversary of the bombing in Nagasaki as a protest against state-sponsored warfare, bombing and censorship through the planning laws,” he said. “It was put up intentionally without planning permission, there was a six year battle to ultimately keep it.

Magnus Hanson-Heine has said the meaning of the sculpture was a stand against censorship


Oxford Mail/

“Recently, the Oxford City Council is looking to list this property, essentially doing the opposite in reverse. I’m determined to stop that. Let’s see how I do.”

Installed on August 9, 1986, the Headington Shark protrudes from the roof of a terraced house on New High Street in Oxford. Former homeowner Bill Heine commissioned the sculpture, and it was designed to be a protest against planning restrictions and censorship.

Mr Hanson-Heine, a quantum chemist, inherited the house from his late dad Bill in 2016 and it is now a star attraction on Airbnb.

Magnus said: “My father always resisted giving any conclusive answer to the question what was the meaning of it, as it was designed to make people think for themselves, and decide for themselves what is art.

“But it was anti the bombing of Tripoli by the Americans, anti-nuclear proliferation, anti-censorship in the form of planning laws specifically.

“I see what they are trying to do and I’m sure it’s very well-intentioned. But they don’t see it now as what it is.

“You grow up with these things, they become part of the scenery and you lose focus of what they mean.”

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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