SOME TIME just before or just after Christmas, a full-sized replica of Captain Cook's famous ship the Endeavour will set out on an extraordinary voyage designed to bring her 'home'.

The replica ship's journey will be very different to that of her famous namesake, however. Instead of circumnavigating the globe, she will travel just 40 miles or so, from her berth on the river at Stockton-on-Tees to the coast and then down to Whitby.

It may be short, but it promises to be a memorable voyage.

The ship, built in Teesside in 1993 to the same dimensions as the original Endeavour, is effectively landlocked at a berth in the river at Stockton.

To reach the sea, the 400-tonne vessel will need to be hoicked up by two giant cranes onto a massive transporter, then hauled five miles by road - under police escort - to a quayside near Middlesbrough.

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The Endeavour replica at her berth in Stockton-on-Tees. Photo: Ceri Oakes

From there, tugs will haul her into a Teesside dry dock, where she'll undergo an extensive £750,000, five-week refurbishment.

She'll then be towed by tug down the Yorkshire coast, before making a triumphant entry into Whitby - where the original Endeavour was built and launched more than 250 years ago - in mid March.

There the ship - one of only two full-size replicas of the Endeavour in the world, and the only one in the northern hemisphere - will be turned into a floating tourist attraction and learning centre.

She won't take passengers out for sailing trips, admits Whitby businessman Andrew Fiddler, one of the partners who bought the ship at auction in August for £155,000 - she wasn't designed for that.

But she will give visitors, including schools and colleges, a unique chance to find out about Captain Cook's voyage, and about life aboard the tiny 100 foot-long ship during her three-year circumnavigation of the globe.

The ship will be berthed at Whitby's Endeavour wharf (of course), and will be crewed by actors, who will seek to recreate life on board. While from the outside, she's a perfect replica of the Endeavour, inside she's not quite the same, Mr Fiddler admits. She's one deck short, for a start.

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Andrew Fiddler on the deck of the replica Endeavour. Photo: Ceri Oakes

But the refit will aim to make her as authentic as possible. "And we've also got a few quirky ideas up our sleeve," admits the Sheffield-born businessman, who owns the Victoria Hotel at Robin Hood's Bay as well as shops in Goathland.

For Mr Fiddler, bringing the replica of the Endeavour 'home' to Whitby will be a dream come true.

After growing up in Sheffield, he joined the Royal Navy as an artificer and radar technician. In 1990, HMS Minerva, the ship on which he was then serving, was decommissioned. For its final voyage, it joined other decommissioned ships on a journey around the world, touching at some of the places Cook had visited in Endeavour more than 200 years earlier. The 1990 voyage became known as 'Endeavour 90' - and it left Mr Fiddler with a lifelong interest in Cook and the Whitby-built ship in which he sailed around the world.

Next year will be the 250th anniversary of the year Cook and the Endeavour set sail from Portsmouth on their historic voyage, he points out: making the 'homecoming' of his replica Endeavour all the more poignant.

He hasn't yet revealed all the details of his plans or the replica ship. "But to have secured one of the most distinctive and historic maritime attractions is fantastic," he says.

"Now we have to carefully work out a complex programme for sensitively refurbishing the ship so that once again HM Bark Endeavour can tell the story of life at sea in the 18th century."

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The 'Great Cabin' of the replica Endeavour. Photo: Ceri Oakes

Unsurprisingly, Scarborough Borough Council is thrilled. "The council is absolutely delighted that this impressive full-sized replica of HM Bark Endeavour has been bought locally and will make Whitby its new base," said council leader Cllr Derek Bastiman.

"As one of only two such vessels in the world, not only will it be a proud moment for the local community, it will be a fantastic visitor attraction."

Which Endeavour?

The Teesside-built replica of the Endeavour which will be coming to Whitby next year shouldn't be confused with two other Endeavour replicas which have connections with the North Yorkshire seaside town.

One is the small replica which takes visitors on daily voyages along the North Yorkshire Coast. Traditionally built by Whitby craftsmen, it is a familiar sight to visitors to the town. But it is less than half the size of the original.

The Endeavour replica which was greeted by thousands of enthralled onlookers when she visited Whitby in 1997 and again in 2002/ 2003 was a full-sized replica, however.

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The Australian replica of Endeavour passes through the swing bridge at Whitby in 2002, as thousands of people gather to watch.

Built in Australia in the 1990s, she is a true ocean-going ship which has twice sailed around the world, and which in 2001 was used for filming of the BBC documentary The Ship. She is currently moored at the Australian National Maritime Museum in Sydney.

The Endeavour replica which Mr Fiddler and his partners bought in August floats, but was not designed for ocean sailing.

She has been moored on the River Tees at Stockton-on-Tees, where she was used for events, re-enactments and weddings.

She will be converted into a museum and educational centre based at Whitby with the help of support from the North York Moors National Park Authority's 'coastal communities fund'.

"We're delighted to help support a project which has such a strong resonance with the National Park - especially with Cook's early years being spent near Roseberry Topping and Great Ayton before he moved to Staithes and then on to Whitby," said the park authority's head of tourism Catriona McLees.

"The ship will be a great draw for visitors and encourage them to make their own discoveries of the wonders along our coast."


The ship which was to go down in history as the HM Bark Endeavour began life as a humble merchant collier, the Earl of Pembroke. Launched in Whitby in June 1764, she was a sturdy, broad, flat-bottomed ship of a type known locally as a 'Whitby cat', and was used to carry coal and other goods up and down the coast.

The Royal Navy bought her in 1768, and commissioned her as His Majesty's Bark Endeavour. She was refitted at Deptford on the River Thames, and a young naval lieutenant by the name of James Cook was given command of her. His orders: to take a scientific exhibition to the Pacific to observe, from Tahiti, the 1769 transit of Venus across the sun - and then to search for the mysterious southern continent known only from rumour and supposition as 'Terra Australis incognita'.

Cook and the Endeavour sailed from Portsmouth on August 26, 1768. The ship carried 94 people, and provisions for 18 months.

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Map showing Cook's voyage in the Endeavour. Photo: Ceri Oakes

She sailed west across the Atlantic, rounded Cape Horn at the southern tip of the Americas, and struck out into the vastness of the Pacific, reaching Tahiti in 1769 in time for the scientists aboard to observe the transit of Venus.

In September 1769 she anchored off New Zealand, then in April 1770, Endeavour became the first European ship to reach the east coast of Australia, when Cook went ashore at what is now known as Botany bay.

The Endeavour then sailed north, almost ran aground on the Great Barrier Reef, then sailed for the Dutch East Indies, where she was repaired. She resumed her journey westward through the Indian Ocean on December 26, 1770, rounded the Cape of Good Hope at the southern tip of Africa on March 13, 1771, and reached the English port of Dover on July 12, 1771, having circumnavigated the globe and been at sea for nearly three years.

Cook went on to make several more voyages of exploration: but not in the Endeavour. The faithful Whitby coal collier was sold into private hands, renamed the Lord Sandwich, and then hired for use as a British troop transport during the American War of Independence.

She was scuttled (deliberately sunk by her captain) during a blockade of Newport, Rhode Island, in 1778, apparently in an attempt to block the French from bringing relief to the American troops there.

In May last year it was reported that the remains of the Endeavour and other ships may have been located in Newport Harbour.