Great Ayton

Great Ayton

infobox UK place
country = England
official_name= Great Ayton
latitude= 54.49569
longitude= -1.12919
population = 4930 (2001 census)
shire_district= Hambleton
shire_county= North Yorkshire
region= Yorkshire and the Humber
constituency_westminster= Richmond
postcode_district = TS9
postcode_area= TS
dial_code= 01642
os_grid_reference= NZ565115

Great Ayton is a village and civil parish in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire on the edge of the North York Moors in England. The name Great Ayton is thought to derive from Ea-tun, tun meaning farm and 'ea' meaning river.

It is known as the boyhood home of the British explorer and navigator Captain Cook and in the 18th and 19th centuries was a centre for the industries of weaving, tanning, brewing and tile making.

Great Ayton was home to the Great Ayton Friends' School (Quaker) from 1841 until its closure in 1997.


Great Ayton is situated at the foot of the Cleveland Hills beneath Easby Moor and the distinctively-shaped Roseberry Topping. The River Leven, a tributary of the River Tees, flows through the village and links its two centres, High Green and Low Green. It is served by Great Ayton railway station.

The Captain Cook connection

James Cook and his family moved to the village when he was 8 and lived there until he was 16. James' father, James Sr., was a Scottish migrant farm labourer married to Grace, a local Yorkshire woman, and had moved to the village to take up a position on one of the local farms. His employer, one Thomas Skottowe, financed the younger James' schooling. After completing this tuition James stayed on at the farm for several years helping out his father (who was now farm manager), before leaving in 1745 to take up an apprenticeship at a haberdasher and grocery store 20 miles away in the fishing village of Staithes, near Whitby.

Museum and monuments

The Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum

The building in which the museum is situated in what was once a charity school founded in 1704 by landowner Michael Postgate. James Cook received his early education here from 1736 to 1740.

The Captain Cook Sculpture

This sculpture, located on High Green, depicts James Cook at the age of 16 looking towards Staithes where, according to tradition, he first felt the lure of the sea. The sculpture was commissioned by Hambleton District Council and is the work of sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby. It was unveiled on May 12 1997.

Captain Cook's Monument

The monument is a 51 ft high obelisk located on Easby Moor and visible for miles around. It was constructed from local sandstone and was erected in 1827. The inscription on the monument reads::"In memory of the celebrated circumnavigator Captain James Cook F.R.S. A man of nautical knowledge inferior to none, in zeal prudence and energy, superior to most. Regardless of danger he opened an intercourse with the Friendly Isles and other parts of the Southern Hemisphere. He was born at Marton Oct. 27th 1728 and massacred at Owythee Feb. 14th 1779 to the inexpressible grief of his countrymen. While the art of navigation shall be cultivated among men, whilst the spirit of enterprise, commerce and philanthropy shall animate the sons of Britain, while it shall be deemed the honour of a Christian Nation to spread civilisation and the blessings of the Christian faith among pagan and savage tribes, so long will the name of Captain Cook stand out amongst the most celebrated and most admired benefactors of the human race."

ite of the Cook family's cottage

The Cook family home on Bridge street was built by James' father in 1755. The cottage was dismantled in 1934 to be shipped to Australia. Each stone was numbered so that the cottage could be reconstructed exactly in its new home in the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. A granite obelisk now marks the original site of the cottage in Great Ayton. The obelisk is constructed from granite taken from Point Hicks, the first land sighted by Cook in Australia.

External links

* [ Great Ayton Tourism, Parish Council, and Community Website]
* [ useful links to websites about Great Ayton]
* [ Great Ayton - Information for visitors from Hambleton District Council]
* [ Captain Cook Country]
* [ The Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum Website]
* [ photographs of Great Ayton]
* [ Accommodation, places to eat and days out in Great Ayton]

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