Maritime Heritage

Whitby has a long past, as the town was reputed to be established by Viking raiders who eventually settled in the area. The name 'Whitby" is said to mean 'White Settlement' in the Old Norse language, with records of the earliest settlement dating as far back as AD656. The towns' Viking past is just one piece of Whitby's maritime heritage, as the town still has a fully operational harbour and local fishing fleet.

In the 18th and 19th centuries this historical fishing port was well - known as a whaling port, but also for its shipbuilding industry.

This was also the maritime port where the famous explorer, cartographer and navigator Captain James Cook learnt his trade as a boy and became a mariner. His early seaman's life was spent on the local collier ships taking their cargos of coal between the Tyne and London.

He then went from Merchant Navy life and volunteered for service in the Royal Navy when England was at war with the French. Because of his attention to detail and accuracy he became noticed by the admiralty and the Royal Society, just as Britain was looking to extend its Empire and discovery overseas.

Today, there are plenty of reminders of this famous captain who started out his sailing career in Whitby like the Captain Cook Memorial Museum, which is well worth a visit.