Screen Shot 2016-04-07 at 15.50.15THE Endeavour is setting sail again – on a special voyage to mark the Captain Cook Stage of the Tour de Yorkshire.

The replica of the famous vessel was a family favourite for 20 years when it hung in the Cleveland Centre before its removal in June 2005 during a major overhaul of the complex.

The craft was carefully dismantled and put into storage, first at Stewart Park and more recently in a unit on the town’s Riverside Park Industrial Estate.

But now the scale model is on its way back to the Cleveland Centre as part of the build-up to Middlesbrough’s Tour de Yorkshire Stage 3 start on Sunday, May 1.

The 1.5-tonne wooden vessel will be winched onto a specially designed cradle this afternoon (Friday, April 8) before being loaded onto a truck to make the journey to the Centre.

Despite significant changes to the Centre’s layout, the team working on the project have calculated that the Endeavour will just clear the Grange Road entrance before being inched into position in the Newton Mall.

Work will continue over the weekend to get the bark ship-shape in time for the arrival of the Tour de Yorkshire trophy on Tuesday morning (April 12).

The Endeavour – around 25ft in length, and as tall again with its masts and rigging in place – will remain in the Cleveland Centre until after May 1’s stage start extravaganza, with talks already under way over its longer term future.

Cleveland Centre Manager Graeme Skillen said: “This stunning replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavour has a special place in the hearts of the people of Middlesbrough and the Cleveland Centre, and we are delighted to be able to bring it back to the Centre.

“Our shoppers have never forgotten the Endeavour, and to this day we still receive comments about the ship. We are all tremendously excited to see it returning.”

Councillor Lewis Young, Middlesbrough Council’s Executive Member for Culture, Leisure and Sport, said: “The Endeavour and its links to Captain Cook are a great part of Middlesbrough’s heritage, and the replica in the Cleveland Centre became a landmark in its own right.

“We’re regularly asked what has become of it and whether it will be coming back – so it’s fantastic to be able to confirm that it’s returning to the Cleveland Centre in time for the Tour de Yorkshire.

“It’s a great symbol for the Captain Cook Stage, and I know it will bring back fond memories for a great many people.”

The countdown is now well and truly under way to Sunday, May 1 when the riders of the Tour de Yorkshire will gather in Centre Square for the much-anticipated final stage of this year’s race.

Some of the leading names in world cycling will roll out through the town before tackling a challenging and hilly 198km route to Scarborough. The route through Middlesbrough is due to be confirmed shortly.

The inaugural Tour de Yorkshire in 2015 attracted one and a half million spectators and more than six million global television viewers, and generated an estimated £50 million in economic benefit to the areas involved.

For full details of the 2016 Tour de Yorkshire, visit letour.yorkshire.com/ and for regular updates on Middlesbrough’s build-up to the big day, visit www.middlesbrough.gov.uk and lovemiddlesbrough.com/enjoytheride