Captain Cook – Whitby's Adopted Son & the Return of the Endeavour
Although he was born in Marton (now a suburb of Middlesborough), the renowned explorer Captain James Cook has been adopted by Whitby. And for good reason: the town played a key role in Cook's eventual success as a world-famous explorer. It was here that he first went to sea, serving his apprenticeship with local ship owners, and the design of the ships used for his Pacific voyages of discovery – including the Endeavour – were based on the design of Whitby 'cats', flat-bottomed ships that carried coal from Newcastle to London. The ships themselves – the Endeavour, Resolution, Discovery and Adventure – were all built in Whitby's shipyards.
July 2018 marked the 250th anniversary of Cook's first voyage, when he set out from Plymouth in 1768 aboard the HMB Endeavour. It was a fruitful trip that cemented Cook's standing with the British admiralty and Royal Society, who backed the exploratory journey. He made contact with indigenous communities at Tierra del Fuego and Tahiti before circumnavigating New Zealand, becoming the first person to accurately chart its shores. He landed at Sydney's Botany Bay in 1770, then sailed up the east coast of Australia and claimed possession of the land for King George III. His voyage dispelled the myth of a southern continent.
To mark the 250th anniversary, a full-scale replica of the HMB Endeavour is coming home to Whitby. It will dock permanently at Endeavour Wharf (Langborne Rd) and be open to the public from autumn 2018.