Captain Cook’s monument was erected on Easby Moor in the early 19th century, situated close to Great Ayton where the circumnavigator lived as a young boy.
In his late teens, James Cook, who was born in Marton in 1728, began working in Whitby as an apprentice for the ship-owning Walker family.
He trained as a seaman, beginning the life of a sailor in February 1747 by carrying a cargo of coal to London. Come 1755, Cook then volunteered as a seaman in the Royal Navy.
During the Seven Years War with France, he saw action in two sea fights and developed his skills in charting and navigating, going on to chart the waters around Newfoundland.
What followed then for Cook, from 1768, were three round the world discovery voyages.
The first saw the charting of the east coast of Australia, as well as the circumnavigation of New Zealand.
His second saw the first crossing of the Antarctic Circle and the third was focused on further exploration of the Pacific Ocean, though Cook died in an affray on the trip in 1779.
The Captain Cook Memorial Museum in Whitby highlights the importance of his work, stating: “Cook’s voyages led to the opening up of the whole Pacific Ocean to European exploration, trade and eventual colonisation, including the formation of two modern nations, Australia and New Zealand.
“The consequences for peoples already living there were varied and often harmful. But in his own time Cook’s work was of huge international interest.”
According to the Captain Cook Society, this 18m high monument to Cook was built in 1827 by a Whitby banker named Robert Campion.
The inscription, written by a historian in the seaside town, describes Cook as “a man of nautical knowledge inferior to none, in zeal, prudence and energy, superior to most”.
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