IN F CUSO
‘You missed a bit!’
How ‘Captain Cook’s Cottage’ travelled from Yorkshire to Australia – and what was left behind.
LEFT This photograph, dated 14 April 1934, shows crates of building materials from the dismantled ‘Captain Cook’s Cottage’ being transported through Melbourne so that the 18th-century Yorkshire house could be reconstructed in an Australian park. BELOW At the time it was put up for auction in 1933, the Great Ayton cottage was clearly (but wrongly) being marketed as the boyhood home of Captain Cook. RIGHT This cutting from the Northern Echo, showing workmen dismantling the cottage, is dated 4 December 1933, the day after the work began.
In 1933, a cottage linked to the celebrated navigator Captain James Cook was bought by an Australian businessman and philanthropist and shipped from Great Ayton to Melbourne, where it now stands. More than 85 years later, though, intriguing traces have been excavated back in Cook’s native Yorkshire.
In a Melbourne park stands a cottage whose humble appearance belies a colourful past. This building has a claim to be the oldest house in Australia, although its origins lie thousands of miles away in North Yorkshire. Our story begins in 1933, when a five-room house in rural Great Ayton was put up for auction. Described as a ‘brick- and stone-built cottage’, the lot also included two parcels of land totalling 7.5 acres – but the most tempting aspect of the site was its historical legacy: the auction notice says that it was ‘renowned as the home of Captain Cook’s early days’.
Certainly this was enough to attract the attention of (later Sir) Russell Grimwade, who had a lifelong interest in Captain Cook. He decided to buy the cottage so that it could be ‘preserved as a monument to the discoverer of Australia’. This was not the limit of his ambitions, IMAGES
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