James Cook in the North East - Staithes and Whitby James Cook in the North East - Staithes and Whitby James Cook in the North East - Staithes and Whitby
James Cook in the North East
Captain James Cook 1728 - 1779
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Staithes and Whitby, the call of the sea

Staithes was an important fishing and smuggling community in the 18th century and during the 19th century the rise of the alum, jet and ironstone industries supplemented the local economy. Despite the decline of these occupations in the late 20th/early 21st centuries Staithes retains its character as a traditional North Yorkshire fishing village.

Staithes

Staithes
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This is part of Staithes’s appeal to tourists, linked with its connections with Cook. Although the shop where Cook was an apprentice for a short time from 1745, to William Sanderson, has been washed into the sea some of the materials were used to build the present house, or Cook’s Shop. A Methodist chapel has also been developed into the Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Centre.

Captain Cook’s Monument, Whitby

Captain Cook’s Monument, Whitby
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The statue of Cook was presented to the town of Whitby by the Hon. Sir Gervase Becket, M.P. and unveiled in 1912. The sculptor John Tweed made the seven feet six inches high bronze figure of Cook on its freestone pedestal.The inscription on it reads:“For the lasting Memory of a great Yorkshire seaman this bronze has been cast, and is left in the keeping of Whitby; the birthplace of those good ships that bore him on his enterprises, brought him to glory, and left him at rest.”The monument can be seen today on Whitby’s West Cliff.

Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby

Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby
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When Cook moved to Whitby in 1746 to become an apprentice to John Walker he lived at Walker’s house in Grape Lane when he was not at sea. This house now houses the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.

The Museum has a number of restored 18th century rooms and reconstructed interiors, including the attic room where Cook would have lived with the other apprentices, and a fine Cook collection. The back yard faces onto the harbour where Walker’s fleet of merchant vessels were moored.

The Blue Room
The Blue Room
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This reconstructed room in the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, shows a typical merchant’s room in the mid-18th century. The Walker family, to whom Cook was apprenticed, were wealthy ship owners and the furnishings in their house in Grape Lane would have reflected this wealth and their tastes.

Cook’s letter to Walker
Cook’s letter to Walker
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Cook worked well for John Walker and soon gained promotion. When Cook joined the Royal Navy in 1755 his former employer wrote letters of recommendation. Cook never forgot Walker’s support and encouragement and wrote to and visited his friend on his rare visits to see his family in the North East of England. This letter, in the collection of the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Whitby, was sent by Cook to Walker after his first voyage (1768-71).

 

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