Captain Cook’s Cottage is a popular tourist attraction at Fitzroy Gardens in East Melbourne. The cottage was relocated from the village of Great Ayton in Yorkshire to Melbourne in 1933. 1934 was the year of Melbourne’s centenary foundation. Based on the year carved on the door ‘1755’, the house was built 10 years after Captain Cook had left his home and hometown. In 1745 James Cook (Captain Cook) left Great Ayton to enter his apprenticeship with William Saunderson, the grocer of Staithes and in 1755, Captain Cook had already joined Royal Navy. But it is possible that Captain Cook visited his parents occasionally though Cook’s wife and children lived in London.
James Cook was born in the village of Marton and later Cook’s father went to Great Ayton from Marton to be a bailiff on Thomas Skottowe’s farm. It was then the cottage was built or bought. The cottage in which Cook was born at Marton was demolished in 1786
Though not in this cottage, James Cook spent part of his youth in Great Ayton. The cottage became famous due to its connection with the Cook’s family.
In 1933, Mrs Arnold Dixon the last owner of the cottage decided to sell, but made a condition that the cottage should remain in Britain. It was suggested at that time that the cottage would make a perfect gift for Victoria’s centenary celebrations in 1934. Prominent Melburnian, Russel Grimwade agreed to buy the cottage and present it as a gift to the people of Victoria. Mrs Arnold Dixon who refused to sell it to wealthy American buyers was persuaded to sell to Mr Grimwade as Australia was still in the Empire. At the time of the sale Mrs Arnold Dixon maintained that she had definite proof that James Cook stayed in the house for 2 months before setting out on his last fatal voyage as James Cook has mentioned about his stay in a letter he has written to his friend.
Captain Cook’s cottage was sold for £800 in 1933 to Mr Grimwade, but the total expenditure including packing and special train exceeded £1700 apart from its re-erection and other costs in Melbourne.
Acting agent General for Victoria, Mr. T. Linton secured original titles from 1772, including one signed, by Captain Cook’s father. York Architects Brierley, Rutherford & Syme was engaged to manage the relocation of the cottage. Every brick was numbered and packed in straw placed in rubber lined boxes. Creepers clinging to the walls for years was also packed by an expert horticulturalist. The soil foundation was also shipped. Mrs Dixon. the last owner, gave Mr. Linton the Union Jack, flown on the cottage on Captain Cook’s birthday. Cook’s Cottage was shipped to Australia in 253 cases and 40 barrels on board the ship Port Dunedin.
Apart from Fitzroy Gardens, Royal Botanic Gardens and the lawn in front of the State Library of Victoria were also considered as a possible site for relocation.
On 15th October 1934, Captain Cook’s Cottage was presented to people of Victoria by Donor Grimwade. Although heavy rain had fallen thousands gathered to witness the ceremony at Fitzroy Gardens.
Address: Fitzroy Gardens, Wellington Parade, East Melbourne VIC 3002
Contact details Phone: 9658 9658
Daily from 9am to 5pm (except Christmas Day)
Last entry at 4.45pm
Tickets and souvenirs can be purchased from the Fitzroy Gardens Visitor Centre, just 100 metres away
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