A huge model of Captain Cook’s ship The Endeavour is to return to its original home in Middlesbrough’s largest shopping centre – with the full backing of the town’s mayor Andy Preston.

Captain James Cook (1728-1779)
*oil on canvas
*127 x 101.6 cm
*1775-1776

Its return commemorates the 250th anniversary of the Marton-born explorer’s landings in New Zealand and Australia in 1770 on the first of his three great voyages of discovery to the Pacific.

The 25 ft replica of the famous vessel was a family favourite for 20 years when it hung in the Cleveland Centre before its removal in 2005 during a major overhaul of the complex.

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

It enjoyed a brief return to Cleveland Centre four years ago but has been back in storage since then.

But now the scale model is coming back to the Centre. Work to reassemble  the replica of the legendary ship will start today (Thursday, February 20).

In 1768, Cook – who was raised in Great Ayton before starting his seafaring life in Whitby – set off from England on the relatively tiny Endeavour on a journey to sail “not only farther than any other man has been before me, but as far as I think it possible for man to go.”

In 1770, Cook and his crew spent six months completing the first chart of New Zealand.

Endeavour then became the first European ship to reach the east coast of Australia, with Cook going ashore at what is now known as Botany Bay.

The Endeavour replica’s masts just cleared Cleveland Centre’s Grange Road entrance before being inched into position in the Newton Mall, close to Costa.

The Endeavour will remain in the shopping centre for the foreseeable future.

Cleveland Centre manager Graeme Skillen said: “The stunning replica of Captain Cook’s Endeavour has a special place in the hearts of Teessiders, especially those who recall its heyday hanging high above the shops and best seen via a glass lift.

“We’ve been waiting for this opportunity to put it back on display, as it’s an icon of Teesside and this is a great way to pay tribute to our area’s most famous son, Captain James Cook,

“I’m confident its return will prove to be a big hit with shoppers, visitors and local historians alike.”

Middlesbrough mayor Andy Preston, who had recently announced on social media that he’d love to see the Endeavour replica back on public display, expressed his delight at news of its return.

“This is a great move by Cleveland Centre,” he said.

“The model of the Endeavour absolutely deserves to be seen by the public to celebrate Cook – arguably the world’s greatest explorer, from our very own Marton.

“When I posted about it on Facebook recently, there was a tidal wave of support from people across Middlesbrough and wider Teesside wanting the replica back on display.

“I and many others have fond memories of going up the glass lift to look down on it back in the 1980s and 90s.

“Its return is a fantastic way for our town to Mark the 250th anniversary of Cook and the Endeavour reaching New Zealand and Australia on the first of his truly epic journeys.

“I’m sure the replica’s comeback will prove hugely popular. Well done to Cleveland Centre and all involved in its welcome return.”