Category: Other info

The 2015 roundup.

Yes I know it’s a tiny bit late and we’re well into 2016, but I’ve been waiting to see if any build news came out of the project before updating. Unfortunately, it’s been over a year since the last work was done on the build and (as far as I’m aware from looking at the build) there has been no addition. If this is an error, I’m quite happy to correct it if contacted by a Project spokesperson. But as with my last post, I’m unable to give any build updates.

The only updates I have, which are also in the public domain are that during 2015, the project lost its one and only shipwright (as previously mentioned) and gained a CEO, although he too seems to have parted company with the project after only a few months at the helm.

The Project continues to ask for donations, specifically mentioning the build, yet (due to a continued lack of information), nothing seems to be happening in that area .

The latest figures for the Project show that their yearly income for the year ending in March 2015 was just under half a million pounds, or for those across the pond, approximately three quarters of a million dollars. (source: If a portion of that figure was donations, would it be too much to ask how those donations were spent?

Most charities, have a newsletter that explains what they’re doing and where the funds are going. For example “Thank you for all your donations in the last year, with your help we have raised x amount and been able to do X Y and Z”. If anyone has a newsletter/s from the Project that they can forward to me I’d be happy to receive a copy and to post the information here.

A online news site recently ran a piece on the Project and quoted the following:

The project originally aimed to raise £4m and while unable to say how much has been raised, the trust has been able to start the build from donations received so far”

Unable to say how much has been raised”???

Surely any charitable trust would have at least one accountant keeping records and as finances can be publicly accessed (see above), why and more importantly how, is the project not aware of how much has been raised. I’m not too sure I’d want to donate my hard earned cash to a charity if they can’t even keep track of it!

Towards the end of 2015 in October there was a piece in the local newspaper that mentioned a part of this blog. (Source:

“It’s been almost a year since the last update to the build and since then absolutely nothing has happened.

“I am still hopeful that I will be able to stand on the Harwich Quay in 2020 and wave off the Mayflower as she sets sail to The New World. “Unfortunately as we sail into 2016, there’s a small part of me that thinks I may be walking past a derelict railway yard full of rotting oak instead.”

The project replied as follows:

But a spokesman for the project dismissed the claims and said the build was not intended to start until January 2016, so has in fact started early.

Over the past three years the project has concentrated on the training centre.

It’s about building the ship but it’s about what the ship will give to the area afterwards.”

The Mayflower Project has today launched a new friends scheme   

For £30, or £15 concessions, members of the public can get updates, a certificate and be entered into a spring prize draw to win a case of Mayflower wine.

As far as I can see, this raises a few questions. Firstly, why start a build ‘early’ just to stop work on it for over a year. Next, as we enter March two months after the official build start date, how is that build progressing. Also why waste time and (I’m assuming) donations on starting a build before your admitted ‘start’ date of Jan 2016, just to see the wood laying in the yard? If the build did not start in January 2016 (as the Project said it would) what is the reason for that? As it is now five months since that newspaper piece, I’m assuming there’s been several ‘updates’. Could someone please forward me the ‘updates’ mentioned by the spokesperson so I can pass some information on via this blog.

By its very nature any charity project should be transparent and open. If a charity receives hard earned money from members of the public, surely that charity should at the very least let the public know what is being done with that money? Is it too much to ask that the Harwich Mayflower Project which actively asks for donations for a ship build, keeps the public informed as to how that build is progressing and if it’s not progressing or it’s been held up then surely they should let people know? But then again, maybe they have and I’ve just not seen or heard it.

Mayflower Murals

It’s been a bit of a busy summer for me, work has been hectic and I’ve just completed a bicycle ride along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. For those of you that follow my cycling blog, you’ll already know about my adventures as I cycled from Galway to Dingle (including the hell that was ‘Corkscrew Hill’). So as  it’s been a while since I ventured into the Railway yard that holds the Mayflower Project, today I paid them a visit.

I wanted to get some updates on how they were getting on and hopefully get you some pictures of the progress of the build. Unfortunately as the summer draws to a close, I’m unable to report any further progress on the build. Being independent of the project, I’m not privy to the stages of the build or any information as to a timeline. But what I do know is that everybody there is as positive and upbeat about the project as they were when I first arrived. I can’t say when I’ll have new pictures of the build, but you can rest assured that as soon as something stirs in the Old Railway Yard in Harwich, I’ll be there like a shot with my camera!

So in the meantime and to let you know that the project and this blog are still alive, I’ve decided to take a few pictures of the ‘Mayflower Murals’ that have recently been completed and surround the building. The murals were painted by a mix of volunteers, school students on work experience placements and learners on vocational skills courses (These local residents  achieved units of qualifications in Art and Design)

Please note the photos have been reduced in size and clarity for uploading and any picture can be clicked on for a bigger image. Also, is is just me or does the mural of John Howland look like the actor Jake Gyllenhaal?  Photography and content: James Kelly.

End of year update

In April of this year, I walked past a Railway yard and spotted dozens and dozens of logs, there must have been hundreds of tons of wood. From the outside of the Railway yard there was no indication of what the place was, even the name was a bit ambiguous. Living in a town where everything from the local chip shop to the local school and taxi firm has a “Mayflower” in its name, the “Mayflower Project” could have been anything. Being the inquisitive type, I went home and Googled it. Turns out they were building the Mayflower!  I went to the website to see how much they had built and if I could get in to see it. Back then the website had no information on the build.  I had no idea if it was built, or being built, or if I could even see it and it was sadly lacking in photos or any kind of live video link.

The next day I ventured back there and met a guy called Sean Day. I mentioned being interested in the build and also that I’d like to take photos and start a blog to document the build, hopefully helping people see just how the build was progressing. Strangely enough, he agreed. In the time since then, my little project has turned into a blog that has received over 14,000 visits in the last eight months.

After helping with a few tours, my Mayflower knowledge was soon expanded when I was given a wonderful gift of  “Mayflower: The voyage that changed the world”, a book that I read in one sitting and have read a few times since. It is thanks to this book (and the wonderful friend that gave it to me) that I can now spout facts and figures about the Mayflower voyage as well as several of the main characters involved.

This brings us to December and the current build. You’ll see from the blog that the build has gone from tons of English oak in the yard, to what is rapidly becoming recognisable as a ship. I did think that Frame 20 may have been up before Christmas (and it may still be), but after a visit today, I was told it was unsafe to lift the frame due to the high winds. If this is not done within the next week, I’m assuming it’ll be lifted into place in early Jan and I’ll hopefully be there to get pics for you

As this is likely to be my last post before the end of the year, I’d like to take a little bit of your time to mention a few people:  Sean Day, for getting over his initial worries that I was a “nut with a camera” and allowing me access to the Project. Chris, Tony, Brett, Tasha  and Dave for being ever patient with me, answering all my questions and allowing me to poke my camera in their faces while they try to build the Mayflower. Mick, the yard manager, whose constant cry of  “Oi, where the bloody hell do you think you’re going” seems to follow me around. Yasmine and Toni, the admin ladies that are always ready with a smile and an answer to all my questions. Steph, who has more artistic talent in her little finger than I have in the whole of my body. Paul, gotta love that goatee.  Tom Daly, the Project chairman. A man whose quiet demeanour and lilting Irish brogue belies a passion and fervour for the Project that will see it completed, no matter what stands in his way.

Finally, a huge thank you to my friend across the pond for sending me that book. A wonderful surprise gift that ignited my passion for the Mayflower and one of the reasons I’m so interested in seeing this project all the way through to the end.

Well that’s it really, it just remains for me to say thank you to you dear reader. You’re why I write this blog and why I continue to annoy the shipwrights at the Mayflower Project. Thanks for being here over the last few months, I hope to see you again in the New Year as the Mayflower continues to grow and I continue to update you on the build. Have a wonderful Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.




This is Harwich, home of the Mayflower

If you follow this blog, you’ll know that every so often, while still keeping to the theme of the Mayflower, I may veer off slightly from the build. This is one of those posts. A little while back, I received a message from someone across the pond asking if they could see some pictures of Harwich, seeing as it was the home port of the Mayflower.  As this blog is read by people from all over the world and most of you will never have been to Harwich and have no idea of the town where the Mayflower originated, (you really should pay us a visit, maybe we’ll see you in 2020?) I’ve decided to put up a small selection of some photos that I took on a stroll around the town one day last summer.

The pictures include Christopher Jones’ house and across the road from it, the Alma Pub (which over 400 years ago was home to Sara Twitt, who married Christopher Jones when she was 17 and he was about 23). St Nicholas Church, where Sara and Christopher Jones were married in 1593. The beach front. Views across the Stour estuary. The main road. The Halfpenny Pier. Morris dancers outside The Alma. The best burger van ever! (You’ll never get a better egg and bacon baguette anywhere)

Harwich has a long and varied history and these pictures don’t cover too much of that, but hopefully it’ll give you a small taste. If you’d like any further information on my pictures or want to see more of my work, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. The resolution of these pictures has been reduced for quicker loading. As usual, all photos are taken by me and must not be copied in any form, electronic or otherwise, without my consent. Photography and Content: James Kelly.


When did the Mayflower actually sail?

Still Mayflower related but a little bit away from the build, I’d like to make a quick post about calendars.  A few people have recently contacted me and asked about the date the  Mayflower sailed. I’ll always use the date mentioned by William Bradford in his ‘History of Plimoth Plantation’  and used by most books and notable websites. That date being the 6th of September 1620.  Some people then question this as they have been told the date was actually the 16th of September.

When the mayflower sailed in 1620, the Julian calendar was in use and the date they set sail was the 6th of September. In the mid 1700’s the Calendar was changed to the Gregorian calendar and ten days were lost, thus making the 6th the 16th.  Personally, I will always quote the date the Pilgrims saw on their calendar, the 6th, because that was when they left, not the 16th! Although I suppose both dates are correct.

But as an aside, here in the UK we celebrate the failure to blow up Parliament in 1605 on the 5th of November, not the 15th!  Content: James Kelly

Brilliant, audacious…. inspiring

Screen Shot 2014-09-11 at 08.24.32 pmThe Harwich Mayflower is a brilliant, audacious project to build the Mayflower ship, set sail on an exciting voyage across the Atlantic Ocean and land as the Founding Fathers did 400 years ago, in America. I wholly support this inspiring Charity who provide employment and training to an ever-growing army of young people and volunteers. The Harwich Mayflower Project IS making history and changing lives. This is THE charity to watch.

Sir Richard Branson

Three Men in a Boat

As you know from earlier posts, sometimes I like to move away from the build a little and give you a taste of what else is happening at the project, so my next few posts will be a little bit of background before I get back to the build.

Now that the visitor centre at the Harwich Mayflower Project is open, they’re getting lots of visitors (if you’re anywhere near, you can always pop down between 9am and 5pm week days)  and as I wander around with my camera, sometimes I help out by taking people to look at the Mayflower.  A few days ago, I was sitting in the office when a few guys walked in and asked if they could see how the project was progressing. It turned out they had arrived by boat and their barge was moored at the Harwich Quay.  After they had a tour, myself and Sean Day were invited to have a look at their barge. I grabbed my camera and followed them to the quay and this time it was my turn to be the visitor and take a tour around their boat, “Nooit Volmaakt”, which is Dutch for “Never perfect”. The guys welcomed us in and put the kettle on for  some of the best coffee  I’ve had in a while. It turns out that not only was the owner a mean coffee maker, he’s also part of a troupe called “Prates of the carabina” and on top of that he’s also called Fluffy! No, I didn’t ask.

After listening to some seafaring stories and enjoying some wonderful hospitality, I left the Three Men in a Boat and headed back to the Project, but not before I got some pictures for you. Photography and content: James Kelly

Fluffy and the gang

Dan, Fluffy and Wayne strike a pose.



IMG_3535-small IMG_3528-small

Making news

Leaving the build for a bit. Every so often, the Harwich Mayflower Project will come to the attention of the media. They recently had several visits from local and national newspapers, including James Marston of the East Anglian Daily Times, who produced an excellent article with several photos and a video that give some background to what’s happening at the build. They were also recently mentioned in the Friday 18th July edition of the Daily Mirror, in a column by Paul Routledge, which unfortunately is not online.

Although this blog is primarily about the build of the ship, I think it’s worth putting  a  link in here  and a few pictures from the recent opening of their visitor centre for you to check out.  It’s also worth noting that the Project were paid a visit by their very own Mayflower Pipes and Drums band, check out the video to hear the bagpipes in action!! Photography/video and content: James Kelly.

IMG_2916-small IMG_2894-small

East Anglian Daily Times feature

Video of  The Mayflower Pipes and Drums Band

The visitor centre opens!

It’s been a little hectic at The Mayflower Project lately as they rush to get the visitor centre open in time for this weekend’s  Harwich Sea Festival & Lifeboat day.  While the finishing touches were being added, a group of visitors from Tampa in Florida arrived. They were shown around the build and then became the first visitors to look around the new visitor centre. I was there taking photos and I have to say, they were lovely people, especially the lady that presented me with a “Hug Licence”.   I took several photographs and they kindly allowed us to use some here on the blog.

IMG_2793 IMG_2801


If you’d like to visit The Mayflower Project, they’re open between 9am and 5pm. Visitors are warmly welcomed and get a guided tour of the build site as well as an up close and personal tour of the Mayflower, as she rises from the English oak in the yard where the project is housed. I’ve been there several times over the past few weeks and I’m still enthralled by the sight of  the keel and the sternpost, that in just a few short years will be in the water and making regular trips to the USA. If you want to see the Mayflower at the early stages of it’s build, why not pay them a visit. I’m sure they’d love to see you and you may even get your picture on the ship’s blog! Photograph and content: James Kelly.

The Pole-Lathe

If you’re following this blog, or even just popping in now and again to follow the progress of the Harwich Mayflower, you’re in a very privileged position.  You are lucky enough to be able to see how the Mayflower was built and watch as the shipwrights from the ship’s original home port, build the ship from old English oak using traditional methods where available. It’s one of those traditional methods that I’m going to focus on in this post.

You’re probably wondering what the shipwrights and carpenters building the Mayflower get up to when they’re not  working on the ship. Well, they work on making tools to help with the build!  A few days ago, I asked if there was anything that I could take pics of and was shown a pole-lathe that had been hand built by one of the guys working on the build.

A pole lathe is a wood-turning lathe that uses a long pole as a return spring for a treadle. Pressing the treadle with your foot pulls on a cord that is wrapped around the piece of wood being turned. The other end of the cord reaches up to the end of a long springy pole. As the action is reciprocating, the work rotates in one direction and then back the other way. Turning is only carried out on the down stroke of the treadle, the spring of the pole only being sufficient to return the treadle to the raised position ready for the next down stroke. Modern pole lathes often replace the springy pole with an elastic bungee cord.  [Wikipedia] Photography and content: James kelly.  Pole-lathe built by Tony Wilding.

100_3891a_mid IMG_2706



If you’re going to make a pole-lathe, then you’re going to need to make some chisels as well. The picture below shows some cold forged chisels made to work on the pole-lathe. In an age when people are straining to get the latest iphone or play the latest xbox or play station and where children are forgetting how to climb trees, I think it’s amazing that there are still craftsmen around that have a skill they can pass on. Not only that, but a skill that built The Mayflower and will build it again.

IMG_2714 IMG_2710