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Captain Cook Museum, Marton, Middlesbrough.

Take a journey in the tracks of Captain James Cook.

Enjoy this journey of discovery through a rich variety of landscape as you follow the life of Britain's most famous seaman and explorer. Trace the tracks from his early days in the schoolroom to his first job in Staithes before arriving in Whitby where he learned his seafaring trade.

In search of Captain Cook

Captain James Cook was born in 1728, in Marton, North Yorkshire. James Cook's baptismal registry His father, also James, was a farm worker who had moved from Scotland to Yorkshire in search of work, and his mother, Grace, was from Thornaby. In 1736, when James was eight years old, the Cook family moved to Great Ayton and James was sent to the Postgate School, where his school fees were paid by Thomas Scottowe, his father's employer. James left school when he was twelve and worked for his father for the next few years before leaving Ayton aged sixteen, to become a shop assistant in Staithes.

The tour can be completed by car in a day but to really enjoy the atmosphere and take advantage of the attractions we recommend spening at least two days exploring the moorlands and coastline of 'Cook's Country'.

The tour may be joined at any point although starting at Marton is the logical point to follow the Cook story from his birthplace.

Marton to Great Ayton

The search for Captain Cook begins at the award winning Captain Cook Birthplace Museum in Marton. Set in Stewart Park, a hundred acres of parkland with lakes and a children's zoo, the museum marks the site of Cook's birth just a few yards away. Here a granite vase now stands on the site of the cottage where he was born in 1728. Entrance to the park and the museum is FREE.

Captain Cook Birthplace Museum

  • Cook's father married Grace in the nearby village of Stainton in 1725. James was their second child and was baptised on 3rd November 1728 in the small church of St. Cuthbert close by. The register in which James' birth was entered is displayed in the church - the entry reads "James the son of James Cook day labourer baptized".
  • On Marton Village Green is a stone memorial from Point Hicks in Australia, the first Australian land sighted by Cook in 1770

The small town of Great Ayton has spacious greens alongside the river Leven and is the place where James Cook attended school. The school is now the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum, celebrating his life in the locality. Admission is free.

Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum

  • Elsewhere in the village is the old All Saints Parish Church,where the Cook family regularly worshipped. In the graveyard are the graves of his mother and five of his brothers and sisters.
  • Look out for the sculpture of James Cook aged 16 which stands on the village green.
  • A cottage, built in the village by Cook's father, was transferred to Melbourne in Australia in 1933; an obelisk now marks the site.
  • Cook's life is also celebrated by a huge obelisk erected in 1827 on Easby Moor high above the town. This monument is on a four mile circular walk which takes in Roseberry Topping and Aireyholme Farm.

Great Ayton to Staithes

Travelling from Great Ayton through Guisborough the journey unfolds towards Saltburn and the coast road to Staithes.

Cook was 16 when he came to Staithes to work in a general store in the village. The original shop where he worked was taken down in 1812 and materials used again in a building which remains even now in Church Street. Many relics of his life here are displayed in the Captain Cook & Staithes Heritage Centre. Here can be found a multitude of treasures from Cook's life - including over 200 books on the subject as well as street scenes, documents and pictures.

Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Centre

Staithes to Whitby

James left Staithes in 1746 to journey to Whitby where he was apprenticed to John and Henry Walker, owners of a number of coal vessels plying the east coast to London. Cook lived on the east side of the harbour, over the bridge in Grape Lane. It was here in John Walker's house that he began his apprenticeship,often working late into the night reading about navigation and seamanship. Today the house forms the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.

Captain Cook Museum, Whitby

As an alternative route your return from Whitby takes you along the A171 past Scaling Dam taking in the stunning scenery of the North York Moors National Park.

Captain Cook Monument, Easby moor