• Jessica Slater

Cook 250- Whitby and Staithes Celebration


Image source: Yorkshire Coast


Sailing majestically in Whitby Harbour recently, the tall ship replicating the Bark Endeavour was a sight to see and reminded us of times gone past and Captain James Cook, who is so strongly linked with this coastal town.


James Cook was born in Marton in Yorkshire but moved to Great Ayton where he attended school. His father was a farm manager and it was his father’s employer who paid for James’s education. James then left school and started to work alongside his father on the land.


Image source: thuppahi.wordpress.com

Apparently when he has time to himself, his favourite place to visit was Roseberry Topping, still a hikers favourite today and always worth taking a hike to if you visit Whitby area.

Moving to Staithes in his teenage years, James worked in a grocer and haberdashery shop by the harbour. Looking out to sea everyday may have motivated the young JC to venture out into the waves. Shop work was not satisfying James, so he travelled to Whitby and was introduced to John and Henry Walker. The Walkers were well established local shipowners in the coal trade. Interestingly, their house in Whitby is now the Captain Cook Memorial Museum. James was taken on as a merchant navy apprentice in their small fleet of vessels, sailing up and down to east coast sailing between Newcastle and London. During this apprenticeship, James studied algebra, geometry, trigonometry, navigation and astronomy. All the skills he would need one day to command his own ship.


James realised that his career would progress more quickly in the Royal Navy in 1755. He was involved in action in the Seven Years’ War carefully applying himself to surveying and mapping the entrance to St Lawrence River during the siege of Quebec. This work was recognised by the Admiralty and this led to his commission in 1766 as commander of HM Bark Endeavour in which he would sail the first of his three Pacific voyages.



Cook sailed thousands of miles across mostly uncharted waters and he mapped newly discovered lands and commanded his ship and men around the globe. He was renowned as a good Captain, keeping his crew in good shape. He was probably one of the first men to have a real G&T, quinine which is found in tonic was taken aboard ships to treat malaria and lime of course was used to treat scurvy. Geneva was drank to keep warm at sea.

Cook had all the ingredients to make a great G&T and so in celebration of this remarkable man make sure you grab yourself a bottle of Whitby Gin and raise a glass.


Image source: thuppahi.wordpress.com

James Cook was killed on his third voyage to the Pacific in 1779, but this noble seaman has not been forgotten and all around Whitby and the area, there can be found reminders about the life of this brave sea faring gentleman


This weekend is extra special as Whitby & Staithes will be hosting with a Captain Cook Festival celebrating 250th Anniversary of his first voyage.


With lots of fun for all the family, this really is offering something for everyone. Three tall ships will be resting in the harbour at Whitby too. Climb on-board and see what life was really like above and below deck on this historic ships. Here is a quick peek of the programme of events for the weekend;





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