The Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum in Great Ayton tells the story of the early life of one of Herriot Country and Britain’s most famous explorers Captain James Cook whose discoveries around world are renowned. Born in Marton near Middlesbrough in 1728, Cook’s family moved to Great Ayton in 1736 where he attended the local school and which is now the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum. He later moved to Staithes and then Whitby before starting is illustrious career as an explorer when he embarked on his first round the world voyage in 1768-71 in the ship Endeavour.
James Cook father worked for Thomas Skottowe, the lord of the manor, and lived at Aireyholme Farm on the side of Roseberry Topping. Thomas Skottowe paid James Cook’s fees at the Postgate School. It was here, between 1736 and 1740, that Captain James Cook received his early education.
The focal point of the Museum is the re-creation of the eighteenth-century schoolroom. In contrast to modern schools, there’s a display showing James Cook’s teacher sleeping in the loft above the classroom! The museum focuses on the education that Cook benefited from and how we remember him and there is an interactive area in the museum that brings this to life.
In addition to explaining his time at the school, Cooks career is also covered in the museum, as is the history of Great Ayton where the displays has sections on key individuals and on the importance of extractive industries to the growth of the village.
In the village itself, there is a statue of Cook as a boy, created by sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby. The site of a cottage built by Cook’s father is marked by an obelisk in the village, the cottage was transferred and rebuilt in Melbourne Australia in 1933.
James Herriot had calls to farms around Great Ayton which is dominated by the 330-metre-high Roseberry Topping. This hill, and the adjacent whinstone outcrop, are of geological importance. It’s another reason to visit Herriot Country.
A visit to the Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum is a very worthy Herriot Country visitor attraction about another important James whose travels were of such great importance to British history.