The “new” HMP Website

I don’t really have the time for this and wanted the six month update to be my last post before I head off for while, but…

I was recently asked by someone from the Project to explain why I was so vexed with what they are doing. I replied it was less being vexed and more a case of trying to balance the Project’s misinformation. But now, now I guess you could call me slightly vexed.

I try to stay impartial and objective with this blog and not let any personal feelings interfere with what I write here. So I’m apologising in advance for more of a personal blog than I usually write, and for what is basically a bit of a rant. But I feel that I need to speak out so as not to not allow myself to be taken advantage of.

The HMP have a “new” website which they are currently trumpeting, and is credited as the work of  “GSL”. I’ve tried to keep this post as short and concise as I can, so please bear with me. I have also had to include various messages here as proof of what transpired, in the knowledge that the HMP may try to say different, or say they “didn’t know”.

I feel a little back story is called for. I own a small IT company, and I have also coded, designed and currently run one of the biggest websites of its kind, regularly pulling in over 25million hits per month. So it’s safe to say I’m good at what I do and I know my job. During my time volunteering  at the HMP, I worked on their existing website to help update it as much as I could, even though I felt it was dated and hard to navigate. In mid 2015 I put a proposal to Sean Day of the HMP to upload a whole new website. One of the services my company provides is building bespoke websites for clients that can run into several months work. But for those who want a cheap, quick and easy option we offer a template service. Basically, we’ll obtain an existing template and simply copy and paste the clients info into it. This is what I proposed for the Project and presented them with a demo using a template called “SouthCentral”. The template is available here for $40 if you’re interested

I had put several of HMP’s images in the header and added paragraphs about the Project and what it was doing. I altered several of the areas and made them appropriate to the Project. I explained that it could be further enhanced by various plugins that could for example have tabbed browsing and even a shop. My idea was that this would be a more modern looking site and as it was all on one scrolling page, very straightforward and easy to navigate.

At this time there was a young man called Greg helping at the project. Greg is a friend of Mr Sean Day (staff) and still visits the Project today, he’s very IT savvy and keen to learn. I asked if he’d like to help me with the new website as he’d learn something about web design and how to use a WordPress template, things that might be handy to know. So I explained how it worked and he helped get the demo up and running. A little while later the full demo with HMP material added was shown to the HMP who liked it but eventually decided not to go with it. That wasn’t a problem, and a little while later I moved out of Harwich and back to London, leaving the Project behind. I then received a mail once I no longer helped out, mentioning the demo. This again acknowledges the Project is aware of the site I prepared….

Dear James,

Sean was with Gregory and I when I asked for the login [for the demo].  I would very much like to see the Mayflower Demo site – and that is why I asked Gregory for those login details – unless you have another way of showing it to me online?

Many thanks.

My reply (Oct 2015)  is below. I wasn’t going to just show this person what I’d done so they could copy it…

Over the last few months I have been working with [Greg] on a demo of a website which we believe would be a huge improvement on the current Harwich Mayflower site, in fact everyone who has seen it (including Mr. Day) has said that it is a fabulous achievement and a major improvement over what the Project currently has. In my professional opinion (as CEO of a server management and website design/hosting company with over 14 years experience) the current HMP site does nothing to promote the Project. The same must also be said for the Project’s social media output which to be honest, is lacklustre and amateurish at best.

I’m sure you will be aware of the positive impact a well designed website and managed social media can have on a company. You will also appreciate that a poorly managed media output will have a significantly negative impact on the same company.

From a recent conversation I had with [Greg] it would seem that you have asked for details of the new ‘Frame’. I’m assuming this refers to the ‘Mayflower Demo’ project which [Greg] and myself are working on. The demo which we have put together is an example of our work and is not in the public domain. It is to be used to show what we can do for the Project and to enlighten the Project as to how our work is a major improvement on what you have at the moment.


On previously seeing the demo, Mr Sean Day (staff) said via mail (again proof of the demo website)

…looking at the demo this is already much better than previous.

Now, fast forward 2 years and the Project unveils a “New” site by GSL. Imagine my surprise when I realised the website is using the SouthCentral template I originally submitted and is basically a photocopy of what I had worked on and shown as a demo in 2015. All that has been updated is the news and images, which I guess is to be expected after two years. I contacted Greg and asked about the site… [images can be clicked on to enlarge]  This is confirmation that I did indeed work on the demo site and it was the basis for the “new’ site.

Yep it IS only fair. “Don’t mention anything about James”? Wow, Really? well if nothing else, it’s proof that the Project admits it knew I worked on the site but wanted to keep my name out of it.

The following is confirmation that Greg is indeed the “GSL” that worked on this “New” site.

In a nutshell, I supplied the canvas, the brushes, a paint by numbers picture and explained how to do the painting, then someone came along, bought their own canvas,  copied my picture, put a splotch of colour on my work and called it their own while protesting “But I bought my own canvas!” I did ask for a credit, but in all honesty I think there’s more chance of the Harwich Mayflower Project building a ship. I’d rather just let people know how this “new” site came into being.  If nothing else, this has taught me two things. Greg is easily led and somewhat naive, and the Project’s ideals don’t seem to have changed since I moved on. I have contacted Greg and asked for some form of credit on the site, but after a week of asking, that request has been ignored. Of course, the basic template is freely available to purchase by anyone to do what they want with, including the Project, and it was purchased. But ownership of a template isn’t the issue here. The issue is that without using my knowledge, input, ideas and work on the demo, there would be no new site. They wouldn’t even know about this template, never mind how to set the thing up. They could have used a different template, or coded their own site from scratch, but they went down the easier route of using what I had previously given them. So a thank you and a small credit would’ve been appreciated. Too much to ask? I think not.

Again, apologies for what is more of a personal post than usual.



  1. Harwichcruiser

    I understand your beef James, as lots of the investigating work I did for the Project has been used by them without mention of my input.

    For your sanity mate, I think it may be time to move on and let them fall on their swords in the months to come. I fully endorse all the great remarks you wrote about Tom (Daly) who I also found to be passionate and committed to the original build concept. I have heard from his lips, so not secondhand, how much money he has personally given to the charity and I gasped when he told me the amount. Not for me to say how much on here, suffice it to say that if a person won that amount on the lottery they would not have to work for many years !!

    There is no doubt that certain people concerned with the Project have hidden personal agendas and want to rub shoulders with dignitaries and even embassy personnel, for their own amazement, in detriment to the charitable status that the Project enjoys.

    Regarding the ‘New’ HMP website, of which if you are correct, you own the intellectual property, is still clinging to the fact that the mission is to build a full-sized replica ship, together with a whole host of aims that you and I know are pie in the sky!. Donations are asked for to make alll this happen and no doubt some unsuspecting folk will give some money.

    As somebody who was involved on a voluntary basis to assist with the original 5-year financial plan for Andy March, the past Managing Director, I would like to see a spreadsheet analysis of ALL the donations given to the HMP since inception and where that money was and will be spent. To my knowledge, no accounts have ever been submitted to the Charities Commission, which is a disgrace !!

    As a webmaster myself, together with an author of a book about the Mayflower, I can see that the new HMP website lacks detail to the ‘greatest nautical story ever’ and one that all American’s should embrace as being the inception of their nation. Also, although briefly giving mention to Jamestown, Virginia being the original destination of the voyage, there is no mention of Christopher Newport, another Harwich person and friend of Christopher Jones, as being the commander of the three ships that sailed to the New World and created the Jamestown settlement.

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