Captain James Cook at Staithes
When James Cook left home at Great Ayton, he was still a boy of 16 years. He travelled across the Cleveland Hills to work in a grocer's shop in the small fishing village of Staithes, overlooking the sea, and it was here that his attention turned to travel and exploration.
The North Sea can punish the houses that lie beside it, as well as to the people who lived in them and worked on the ships. The young James Cook worked in Mr Sanderson's general dealer's shop but it, like so many houses in this quaint, cliff-clinging village, has long since disappeared. It was during the storm which lasted from Sunday 4th November to Friday 9th November 1767, 22 years after James Cook had ceased work as an assistant to William Sanderson, that this shop was reduced to a wreck and left in a dismal state.
The cottage, today known as Cook's Cottage, which bears a plaque commemorating the inauguration of the Heritage Trail by the Prince of Wales in 1978, is said to incorporate material salvaged from the original house on the quay side, where Cook mixed with fishermen and sailors in Staithes.
Cook will have known the 'Cod and Lobster' public house which stood beside Sanderson's shop. It is still here today, but he might not recognise it because it has been much rebuilt and in Cook's day it was a single-storey building. But if you wish to have a look at what this shop once looked like, then the world's only reproduction, which is full size, is to be found in the Captain Cook and Staithes Heritage Centre.
Staithes therefore played a very important, and some would say essential part, in helping this boy from the most humble of beginnings became, arguably, the greatest seaman of all time!
We are normally OPEN 10AM - 5PM EVERY DAY (Except in January when open weekends only). Please telephone us to confirm opening times.
CAPTAIN COOK & STAITHES HERITAGE CENTRE
HIGH STREET, STAITHES, NEAR WHITBY, NORTH YORKSHIRE, TS13 5BQ
TEL: 01947 841454 www.captaincookatstaithes.co.uk