BILL Heine developed a reputation as an eccentric but lovable figure during his five decades in Oxford.

This was best illustrated by the famous Headington shark, which he installed in the roof of his house in New High Street in August 1986.

The 25ft-long fibreglass fish has become one of the city's most recognisable landmarks, but if Oxford City Council had its way it would have been removed long ago.

Mr Heine had the sculpture installed without planning permission on August 9, 1986, sparking a six-year legal battle with the council.

Read again: Bill Heine - a life in pictures

The writer, broadcaster and journalist initially intended the shark to be a protest against the American bombing of Libya, while he has also described it as a statement about nuclear weapons.

He spent six years fighting the council's efforts to remove the landmark, eventually winning a reprieve in 1992 following an appeal to then Secretary of State for the Environment, Michael Heseltine.

Oxford Mail:

The government’s final ruling said: “The council is understandably concerned about precedent here.

“The first concern is simple: proliferation with sharks (and heaven knows what else) crashing through roofs all over the city. This fear is exaggerated.

“In the five years since the shark was erected, no other examples have occurred.

“Only very recently has there been a proposal for twin baby sharks in Iffley Road.

“But any system of control must make some small place for the dynamic, the unexpected, the downright quirky.”

Read again: Tributes to Bill Heine

The sculpture has since gained iconic status, with Britt Bolen even designing a one-off brick set inspired by the 'shark house'.

Oxford residents immediately called for it to be manufactured, but LEGO rejected the idea due to its 'ban on political content'.

The house was bought by Mr Heine’s son Magnus Hanson-Heine in 2016 in a bid to save the shark from being removed and it is now a star attraction on Airbnb.

Visitors can stay in the much-loved landmark for an eye-watering £199 a night.

The original shark was cleaned and repainted in August last year, with Mr Heine dedicating one of his weekly Oxford Mail columns to the sculpture.

Read again: Bill Heine - 'How the shark and I have beaten the odds'

He said: "When the scaffolding is taken away and the shark emerges resplendent in a new coat of many colours, maybe there will be an opportunity to celebrate the shark’s life and mine and the determination, the will to beat the odds, that could be the secret of the shark’s 32 years and my one year with cancer."

Mr Heine moved to Oxford in the late 1960s, earning a place on a postgraduate law course at Balliol College.

He 'fell in love' with the city and never left, soon gaining attention when he opened the Penultimate Picture Palace in East Oxford's Jeune Street in 1976.

The cinema, now the Ultimate Picture Palace, attracted the council's ire for showing a series of banned and provocative films.

Meanwhile, his other independent cinema, Not the Moulin Rouge, in Headington, had can-can dancers’ legs installed on the front.

Oxford Mail:

Stunts such as these endeared Mr Heine to Oxford residents and the bond was strengthened by his weekly columns documenting his battle with cancer.

Read again: Bill Heine's final column

Always honest and upfront, the articles gave an insight into the mindset of a man given months to live, with his final column, on Friday, reflecting on his decision to spend his final days at home.

Explaining his thinking, he wrote poignantly: “It is a lovely and loving environment that makes the prospect of dying something that I can cope with; a time to let our boundaries down and be with each other.”