Great Ayton

Coordinates: 54°29′17″N 1°07′59″W / 54.488°N 1.133°W / 54.488; -1.133
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Great Ayton
Footbridge over the River Leven in Low Green
Great Ayton is located in North Yorkshire
Great Ayton
Great Ayton
Location within North Yorkshire
Population4,629 (2011 census)[1]
OS grid referenceNZ565115
Civil parish
  • Great Ayton
Unitary authority
Ceremonial county
Sovereign stateUnited Kingdom
Post townMiddlesbrough
Postcode districtTS9
Dialling code01642
PoliceNorth Yorkshire
FireNorth Yorkshire
UK Parliament
WebsiteParish council website
List of places
54°29′17″N 1°07′59″W / 54.488°N 1.133°W / 54.488; -1.133

Great Ayton is a village and civil parish in North Yorkshire, England. The River Leven (a tributary of the River Tees) flows through the village, which lies just north of the North York Moors. According to the 2011 Census, the parish has a population of 4,629.[1]


Great Ayton's name derives from Old English Ea-tun, meaning 'river farm'. The river flowing through Great Ayton is the Leven, a tributary of the River Tees. A later addition of the word 'great' differentiates the village from nearby Little Ayton.[2][3]


In the 18th and 19th centuries Great Ayton was a centre for the industries of weaving, tanning, brewing, and tile making.[3] Subsequently, whinstone for road surfacing was also quarried from the Cleveland Dyke[4] along with ironstone, jet and alum from the Cleveland Hills.[5][6]

Great Ayton was home to the Great Ayton Friends' School (Quaker) from 1841 until it closed in 1997.[7] The village serves as the base for Cleveland Mountain Rescue Team.[8]


Looking south-west to Great Ayton from Cliff Ridge

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 lies near Middlesbrough's built-up area, south-east by less than 3 miles (4.8 km), 7 miles (11.3 km) from its centre. It is also 3 miles (4.8 km) north-east of Stokesley and 5 miles (8 km) from Guisborough. From 1894 to 1974, it was in the Stokesley Rural District of the North Riding of Yorkshire. The centre is 34 mile (1.2 km) from the nexus of Redcar and Cleveland, borough of Middlesbrough and the Hambleton districts. This is in keeping with the Langbaurgh hamlet as a historic meeting place of the Langbaurgh Wapentake.

An electoral ward, of the same name, stretches east to Kildale with a population of 4,973 at the 2011 census .[9]


The village is served by Great Ayton railway station on the Esk Valley Line.


The village landmarks below all relate to James Cook.

  • A granite obelisk now marks the original site of the Cook family cottage in Great Ayton. 'Cooks' Cottage' is now to be found in Fitzroy Gardens in Melbourne, Australia, having been dismantled in England and rebuilt in Australia in 1934. 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.
  • Unveiled on 12 May 1997 on High Green is a statue depicting James Cook at the age of 16 looking towards Staithes where, according to tradition, he first felt the lure of the sea. This was commissioned by Hambleton District Council and is the work of sculptor Nicholas Dimbleby.


The parish church of Christ Church was built in 1876 and now designated a Grade II listed building.[10] 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.[11] The church has an organ built by James Jepson Binns.[11] 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.[12]

Notable people[edit]

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 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.

Cyclist brothers Harry Tanfield (born 1994) and Charlie Tanfield (born 1996), were born in the village. They both share a birthday, 17 November.[13]


  1. ^ a b UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Great Ayton Parish (1170216847)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Key to English Place-Names". The University of Nottingham. Archived from the original on 7 June 2015. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  3. ^ a b "A guide to Great Ayton, Cleveland and Teesside". Information Britain. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  4. ^ O'Sullivan, Dan. "Whinstone Mining" (PDF). Great Ayton - History of the Village. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  5. ^ "Great Ayton". Esk Valley Railway. 2009. Retrieved 24 June 2015.
  6. ^ "Great Ayton". Welcome to Yorkshire. Retrieved 21 June 2015.
  7. ^ "Ayton School - the later years" (PDF). Great Ayton - History of the Village. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  8. ^ Flanagan, Emily (17 August 2017). "Rescue volunteers to climb from dawn until dusk". The Northern Echo. Retrieved 24 January 2020.
  9. ^ UK Census (2011). "Local Area Report – Great Ayton 2011 Census Ward (1237325066)". Nomis. Office for National Statistics. Retrieved 25 April 2018.
  10. ^ Historic England. "Christ Church (1150639)". National Heritage List for England. Retrieved 14 September 2018.
  11. ^ a b "Christ Church, Great Ayton". A Church Near You. The Church of England. Retrieved 20 June 2015.
  12. ^ "All Saints (Old Church), Great Ayton". A Church Near You. The Church of England. Retrieved 12 September 2011.
  13. ^ "Great Ayton's Charlie Tanfield takes Commonwealth gold". ITV News. 6 April 2018. Retrieved 20 September 2018.

External links[edit]