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Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Yorkshire

Whitby's Captain Cook Memorial Museum is located in the house where in 1746 a seventeen year old James Cook, the son of a farm labourer, was apprenticed to Captain John Walker. Cook lodged in the attic under a roof built of old ships timbers. His room overlooked the harbour where his future ships Endeavour, Resolution, Adventure and Discovery would be built.

Cook worked for Walker on merchant ships and quickly became a valued crew member. But in 1754 he turned down a steady career with Walker for life in the Royal Navy. Cook quickly rose through the ranks, learnt surveying techniques, and was offered command on Endeavour in 1768. His mission on Endeavour was to sail to Tahiti in the Pacific and observe Venus in transit across the face of the sun in June 1769. Timing the transit of Venus from a number of locations across the world allowed the distance from sun to earth to be calculated. Cook then went on to visit New Zealand, and chart the unknown eastern side of New Holland, now Australia. Subsequent voyages took Cook to Antarctica, British Columbia, the Arctic, and Hawaii, where he was killed by natives in 1779.

According to Norman Davies in The Isles Cook was so admired that in 1778, when France declared war on Britain, French naval commanders were ordered not to interfere with Cook's ships. It was felt that such action would hinder the advance of human knowledge. Read more on Captain Cook Biography And Visits.

The town of Whitby itself has around the same number of people living there as in Cook's day. Much of the old town survives, and there is an excellent sandy beach.

Groups are welcome at the museum. There is a small shop selling souvenirs.


Opening Times: Please use contact details below.

Address: Captain Cook Memorial Museum, Grape Lane, Whitby, Yorkshire YO22 4BA

Directions: Whitby is on the Yorkshire coast, forty five miles from York or Darlington. Take the A171 from Teeside, or the A169 from York. The museum is in Grape Street, within walking distance of Whitby railway station. Click here for an interactive map centred on the Captain Cook Memorial Museum.

Access: There is wheelchair access to two floors, with a video available of upper floors.


telephone: 01947 601900


web site:



©2006 InfoBritain (updated 11/12)