Great Ayton is a village and civil parish in the Hambleton district of North Yorkshire, England, on the edge of the North York Moors. It lies less than 3 miles (4.8 km) southeast of the southernmost edge of Middlesbrough, 7 miles (11.3 km) from the centre of Middlesbrough and 3 miles (4.8 km) northeast of Stokesley on the border with the unitary authorities of Redcar and Cleveland and Middlesbrough. According to the 2011 Census, it has a population of 4,629.
Footbridge over the River Leven in Low Green
|Population||4,629 (2011 census)|
|OS grid reference|
|Sovereign state||United Kingdom|
|EU Parliament||Yorkshire and the Humber|
In the 18th and 19th centuries Great Ayton was a centre for the industries of weaving, tanning, brewing, and tile making. Subsequently, whinstone for road surfacing was also quarried from the Cleveland Dyke along with ironstone, jet and alum from the Cleveland Hills.
Great Ayton is at the foot of the Cleveland Hills beneath Easby Moor and the distinctively-shaped Roseberry Topping. The River Leven, a tributary of the River Tees, flows through the village and links its two centres, High Green and Low Green. The Cleveland Dyke, a narrow band of hard whinstone rock that runs for about 31 miles between Robin Hood's Bay and Eaglescliffe lies to the north-east of the village.
The village was the boyhood home of Captain James Cook, the British explorer and navigator and many notable local landmarks relate to this. The Cook family home on Bridge Street was built by James' father in 1755. The cottage was dismantled in 1934 to be shipped to Australia. Each stone was numbered so that the cottage could be reconstructed exactly in its new home in the Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. A granite obelisk now marks the original site of the cottage in Great Ayton. The obelisk is constructed from granite taken from Point Hicks, the first land sighted by Cook in Australia. The Captain Cook Schoolroom Museum is within a former charity school, founded in 1704 by landowner Michael Postgate. James Cook received his early education here from 1736 to 1740. A statue on High Green depicts James Cook at the age of 16 looking towards Staithes where, according to tradition, he first felt the lure of the sea. The sculpture was commissioned by Hambleton District Council and is the work of sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby. It was unveiled on 12 May 1997.
The parish church of Christ Church was built in 1876 and now designated a Grade II listed building. It holds a number of services during the day that attract a total attendance of about 200. In the summer months, the evening service takes place in All Saints' Church, the former parish church, which dates back to the 12th century. The church has an organ built by James Jepson Binns. There is also a Methodist Church, Catholic and Religious Society of Friends in the village. James Cook's mother and siblings are buried in the churchyard of All Saints' Church.
The village was the boyhood home of Captain Cook, the British explorer and navigator, who was born in nearby Marton. James Cook and his family moved to the village when he was eight years old and lived there until he was sixteen. The cyclists Harry and Charlie Tanfield both grew up in the village.
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Great Ayton Parish (1170216847)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
- "Key to English Place-Names". The University of Nottingham. Archived from the original on 7 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "A guide to Great Ayton, Cleveland and Teesside". Information Britain. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
- O'Sullivan, Dan. "Whinstone Mining" (PDF). Great Ayton - History of the Village. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "Great Ayton". Esk Valley Railway. 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
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- "Ayton School - the later years" (PDF). Great Ayton - History of the Village. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Great Ayton 2011 Census Ward (1237325066)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
- Historic England. "Christ Church (1150639)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
- "Christ Church, Great Ayton". A Church Near You. The Church of England. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
- "All Saints (Old Church), Great Ayton". A Church Near You. The Church of England. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
- "Great Ayton's Charlie Tanfield takes Commonwealth gold". ITV News. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.
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