THE hunt to unearth the North Yorkshire boyhood home of Captain Cook – which has yet to be found - is to begin in earnest.

A property belonging to the family of the world famous explorer sits in Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne. The prize tourist attraction was transported brick-by-brick from Great Ayton in North Yorkshire to be painstakingly rebuilt Australia in 1933.

But Captain Cook almost certainly never lived there. It was built by his father, also called James Cook, in 1755, long after the young James Cook had left home and was sailing aboard North Sea colliers.

Now the Captain Cook Society and Great Ayton History Society has received £9,000 from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) to hopefully find one of Captain Cook’s childhood homes.

John Rowlands, from Great Ayton History Society, said: “A local story around here suggests there’s a piece of land near Aireyholme Farm where he lived with his father and mother.

“What we’re trying to do first of all is some paper research, looking at documents and get a new reference to this property.

“The Yorkshire Community Archaeologist Kevin Cale will also do a little bit of surveying in the area and will hopefully come across something that substantiates those rumours.”

Captain Cook’s father is believed to have secured work as a “hind" or bailiff for farmer Thomas Skottowe at Aireyholme Farm in about 1744. His parents moved into the village in 1755, to the home now standing in Melbourne.

Cliff Thornton, President of the Captain Cook Society, said: “For such an important man, there’s hardly anywhere left where he actually lived.

“His original home in Marton was of such a poor standard – made of clay – that it didn’t last long, and a terraced home he bought in London was demolished in the 1960s.

“There’s an oral tradition in Great Ayton that came to light a few years ago, that his family had a cottage near the farm. So we have to do this research to have sufficient evidence so we know we’re not on a wild goose chase.”

Historical research will also identify which footpath the Cook family walked along to reach the village of Great Ayton. Volunteers from the local society and community will clear and repair the path, establishing a Captain Cook Trail.

If the year-long project successfully identifies the site of the Cook family cottage at Aireyholme Farm, further funding will be sought for excavation.

People are invited to help with the documentary research now required.

Mr Rowlands said: “The first thing we need to do in autumn and winter is to do some research in museums and libraries, looking at the Land Register and deeds to establish there was a cottage there. The research is all over; there’s stuff potentially in Middlesbrough and York and the Captain Cook Museum in Marton.”

Anybody interested in helping with the research is invited to a meeting at the Discovery Centre in Great Ayton at 7.30pm on September 10.