The inscription on the plinth reads:
"Captain James Cook / R.N. F.R.S. / Born 1728 Died 1779 / Circumnavigator of the globe explorer of / the Pacific Ocean he laid the foundations of / the British Empire in Australia and New Zealand / charted the shores of New Foundland and traversed / the ocean gates of Canada both East and West // Unveiled by H.R.H. Prince Arthur of Connaught / on behalf of the British Empire League 7th July 1914"
Sailors are quick to point out that Cook is standing on a rope – a cardinal sin on a ship.
The Admiralty building is directly behind Cook’s statue. In 1766, the Admiralty engaged Cook to command a scientific voyage to the Pacific Ocean. The purpose of the voyage was to observe and record the transit of Venus across the Sun for the benefit of a Royal Society inquiry into a means of determining longitude. This was the first of Cook’s three great voyages. At the age of 39 he was promoted to lieutenant to grant him sufficient status to take the command. For its part, the Royal Society agreed that Cook would receive a one hundred guinea gratuity in addition to his Naval pay.