Blue plaque for Allerthorpe's most famous son

ALLERTHORPE'S most famous resident has been commemorated with a blue plaque.

Thomas Cooke (1807-1868) was born in Allerthorpe and went on to make a big contribution to the world of physics and astrology – some of the telescopes he made are still used around the world today.

The plaque was revealed at a ceremony in the village. The event was organised by the Yorkshire Branch Institute Of Physics and Allerthorpe Parish Council and the plaque was unveiled by Professor Jocelyn Bell Burnell DBE, president of the Institute of Physics.

Thomas Cooke was born in a house opposite the church which has since been demolished. He taught himself maths and astronomy and aimed to go to sea. But he was persuaded to become a teacher by his mother. He taught in the village school for a time, which is now the village hall and where the plaque has been installed.

He later became an instrument maker and founded T Cooke & Sons. His telescopes are still in use today, including one in York's Museum Gardens and one in the National Observatory of New Zealand.

The village's famous resident was discovered when people were researching the history of the village for a book.

The ceremony was opened with a speech about Thomas Cooke by Martin Lunn, curator of astronomy at York's Yorkshire Museum, where they still use a telescope made by Cooke.

Mr Lunn said: "Thomas Cooke born in this little village, very poor parents and yet no one could know he was going to go on and become one of the greatest telescope makers of all time.

"He taught himself maths and geometry and started teaching others. He made his first telescope in about 1830."

Cooke opened his first shop in Stonegate, York, in 1837 and soon had orders from all over the country. After moving to larger premises in Coney Street the company later moved to a site in Bishop Hill in 1857 and built one of the first British telescope factories.

Mr Lunn said: "He had to make the machinery to make the parts for the telescope, that in itself is a challenge. He's one of the best the world has ever produced."