So, I’m back in the UK for a bit before heading off on my travels to the states. Before I go, I thought I’d let those of you thinking of visiting the Mayflower Project during the school Summer Holidays know just what to expect. These photos were taken within the last week.
No signs, no information, just a weathered piece of paper stuck to the door. Run down, abandoned, neglected, totally uninspiring and of course, no ship build. I’ll ask the question yet again: Where did all those donations go?
Remember Mr Sean Day’s (HMP Executive) proud boast a month or so back? “We’re top of the pops on tripadvisor.” (They were actually languishing at Number 8)
As the old saying goes “A picture is worth a thousand words.”
While I could not attend the recent Harwich Mayflower Project Open Session, there were people there who have contacted me with reports.
While I myself do not have a history of ships or shipbuilding, ( and neither it seems do the Harwich Mayflower Project as public records show their Trustees vary from “retired” to “woodlands manager” , “Ex wing commander” and “Hotelier” the youngest being 63 and the eldest 74 as of 2017. I believe the staff of 2 or 3 also consist of nobody with any history of shipbuilding or the business of building ships either) I am becoming more and more of the opinion that the Mayflower Project will probably end up as a Heritage Centre for Harwich and simply promote Harwich during the 2020 celebrations.
But as usual I remain cautiously optimistic.Several questions were asked at the meeting, such as “why is there such limited information” and “why are the opening hours so erratic” but apparently, questions were met with a bland and well rehearsed “We will address your concerns”
Pretty routine stuff, but apparently things heated up when someone was heard saying “Sean Day (staff) and Robert Day (Trustee) are well known local *wide boys who should not be encouraged to continue with their plans”. Now while I have no knowledge of Robert Day (apart from once overhearing “The best thing about him is that he’s not his brother Sean” ) I did spend 18 months in the company of Sean while I was a volunteer.
It would seem that in the lack of any concrete information coming from this meeting, the one thing we can take from it is that as of this month, it seems the HMP have a year to get funding in place. Fingers crossed.
*For my American followers, Wikipedia states that Wide boy is a British term for a man who lives by his wits, wheeling and dealing.
OK, let’s get this straight right from the start…
The Mayflower DID NOT sail from Harwich to America.
Now a little about me before I give you the concrete information that disputes this.
I lived in Harwich for three years and was a volunteer at the Harwich Mayflower Project for 18 months. During that time and before it, I read as many books on the Mayflower as I could get my hands on. During my time at the Project, one of the many things I did was to give guided tours, and I was regularly praised on my knowledge and “bringing the voyage to life”. In the time since I moved out of Harwich and back to London I have retained my interest and have visited Holland, Rotherhithe, Plymouth and Southampton over the last 8 months, gathering information and research for a novel to be published in late November 2019. At the end of this year I will be spending two months in the USA, which will culminate with my visiting Boston, Plimoth Plantation, and surrounding areas. Again for research.
The following appeared in the local Harwich newspaper on 12th May:
“In the 17th century the Pilgrim ship the Mayflower set sail from Harwich to America.”
I have no idea where the newspaper got this information, but at best they have been misinformed and at worst they have been lied to.
I also received an email a while ago stating that I should be “proud of a town such as Harwich that sent the Pilgrims to America”. First off, Harwich is a wonderful town, but it definitely played no part in sending the pilgrims to America, apart from the Mayflower Captain Christopher Jones being born there. The Ship itself cannot be traced to a shipyard where it was built. Records from 1609 show Jones as being the Captain of the Mayflower. In port books of 1609 to 11 the Mayflower is said to be “Of Harwich”. While this means the Mayflower was definitely in Harwich, there is no proof to show she was built there, but then again, there is no proof to show she wasn’t.
In 1611 Jones (and the Mayflower) left Harwich and moved to Rotherhithe. This was to be his home until his death in 1622. Various records in the years after Jones arrived in Rotherhithe show his ship on the Thames. Rotherhithe was her home port and it was where she returned to in 1621 when returning from America.
In William Bradford’s Of Plimoth Plantation, he states “A small ship was bought and fitted in Holland..” (The Speedwell) and “Another was hired in London and things were made ready” (The Mayflower). The Mayflower was hired at Rotherhithe and went on to meet the Speedwell in Southampton where they left for the new world before having to return due to issues with Speedwell. They then carried on their journey in the Mayflower as the speedwell was deemed unseaworthy.
The Pilgrims journey to America started from Rotherhithe, making their way to Southampton, but their final port of call in the UK was Plymouth.
If I drove my car from Harwich to London and lived in London driving to work every day and sometimes going further afield, then 9 years later I drove a family from London to the coast in that same car, would you say my journey to the coast started from Harwich?
I have received the following from Mr. Paul Simmons:
I was the official Internet researcher for the Mayflower Project and found out lots of information that has never come to light before.
One of those snippets was that Christopher Jones, before the recognised sailing from Redruthe to Southampton, brought his wife, who was pregnant, and his children to Harwich, to stay with their relatives. At the same time the extra crew he required for the journey were hired and were mainly Harwich Peninsula men. Thus it can be argued that the Mayflower set sail to the New World from Harwich, via Southampton, Dartmouth and Plymouth.
The salient remark here is “argued”. While we definitely know from parish records that Jones’ youngest was baptised in Harwich and that his wife was there during his voyage, even if it could be proved beyond any shadow of a doubt that the ship was in Harwich a day before being chartered in London, (which it cannot as far as I’m aware) it would not have had any passengers on it. The pilgrims boarded the two vessels in Holland and London. That is (unarguably) where their voyage started. Where does one draw the line? Before it was in London the Mayflower was trading in Europe, do we therefore say the journey to the US started in France? I’m afraid I cannot, nor I believe would anyone else, (apart from maybe from someone with a vested interest) say that the Pilgrims voyage started in Harwich.
The Harwich Mayflower Project has announced an Open Session to allow “people with concerns about the Project to question a Trustee” (taken from Harwich and Manningtree Standard Fri 12th May). If you are local and have any concerns, please attend.
The time and date of the session is Thursday May 18th at 9.30am. A time when most people who have any concerns may be at work. But, the Project has of course set up a special email address where anyone with a concern can send in their questions… Oh wait, they haven’t.
So, please be prepared for the Project’s announcement of “We asked for people with concerns to turn up and only 2 arrived”. Why was this not set for a time in the evening when the people of Harwich could actually be there. Surely one of the Trustees, who are mostly retired individuals, can spare a few hours in the evening to meet members of the public? The same public that they are taking donations from. As I’ve said before, it’s not rocket science is it?
I for one can’t be there, but if anyone who is reading this can be there, could you please ask a question for me? “Dear Trustee, as there has been no ship build since 2014 and you have been, and are still taking donations from the public for a “Build” which is non-existent at the moment, can you please state (with records to back it up) what these donations from the public have been used for?”
Now that this question is in the public domain, the Project will no doubt have their usual “politician style” prepared answer ready.
There are of course lots of unanswered questions concerning this “Charity”, but they’re best left for members of the public to ask on Thursday.
Well I guess the Project is struggling for cash a little more than I suspected. Why else would they be selling their large industrial saw that’s used to chop through tree trunks? Surely it’ll be needed for when the funds come rolling in and they start building the ship? Or then again, maybe after the local council told them they are no longer a major part of the 2020 celebrations, they’ve decided to downsize? Who knows.
Anyways, in an effort to help them out, I’m going to give them a little free publicity in the hope they can sell it. It’s available on ebay if you’re interested and here’s the screen shot.
Oh dear, another message from the Project. I think I must be rattling their cage. Or to quote the immortal bard, “Methinks they doth protest too much”. I’m getting more than a little tired of this nonsense. Their message is in italics and my reply is in standard font.
Dear Mr Kelly,
FACTS. You wrongly address your blog to Mr Day. The authors of our last response were the Trustees of the Harwich Mayflower Project. We are disturbed that you are addressing these points to him – please desist in using the wrong addressees and causing unnecessary distress.
Facts? You guys wouldn’t know a fact if you fell over it. Here’s the “Facts”. Your latest message was sent from Sean.firstname.lastname@example.org who is not a trustee. if you want to send messages as trustees, get a trustee address and stop using a staff address. it’s not rocket science is it?
Also, you say I wrongly addressed my blog to Mr. Day. Please see the screenshot below.
As usual, you guys have skewed the truth to suit yourselves. The original message was from “Sean for the Trustees” The address was email@example.com. As such that was who the reply was addressed to and where the reply went, to be passed on to the trustees. “Distress”? Yep, I’m sure poor Mr Day had to sit down with a strong cup of tea and had to take a few days off work after receiving an email. Poor soul. Again, if the trustees want to send messages as the trustees, get an address. firstname.lastname@example.org would do the job. Once again, I shouldn’t have to tell you this.
The 2016 Newsletter was posted on our website – please look again.
I would if I could get access to your website. It has been unavailable for a while now (apparently according to google “this site may be hacked”) and as of this message, I still cannot gain access to your site as it is unavailable. How hard is it to use social media to give people information? Especially when your site has been down for so long.
Thank you for your summary of the project’s past but nothing you have said is new to us but of course you always skew the story. All of the potential benefits of sponsorship and donations require machinery which is built only with financial resources. We repeat, that sponsorship remains our primary target and if you can help then we would be grateful. Otherwise your negativity is not wanted.
Of course it’s not new, you’re continually rehashing the same old thing, and as for skewing the story, please do not judge me by your own low standards. I have presented nothing here but facts. Directors have stepped down followed by the vice director. You decided not to renew US charity status, the training centre has closed, the build (what there is of it) stalled in 2014 and has not recommenced. There is no build happening for people to come and see. etc. etc. What part of that truth is skewed? My being honest and reporting information you refuse to, is not negative. Your hiding the facts and lying to the public is negative.
Your assertion that the Heritage Centre’s costs would be better deployed on the ship build is noted but again wrong. We had no choice as the Heritage Centre costs were ring-fenced by local authorities and a family trust. Please re-read our website so that you are better informed.
You chose to build a heritage centre. You were not told to do so by local authorities. It was your choice to solicit funds for that project. It was your choice to get funds for a visitor centre and not for the ship. As you see, I am very well informed and again, I’d love to visit your website, but it remains unavailable.
In view of your irritation and constant criticism of the Harwich Mayflower Project, your failure to recognise the efforts of those making an honourable and proper contribution to Harwich and the local area as well as your insulting our staff we have come to the decision to cease all communication with your Ship’s Blog. This sort of behaviour has sadly become rife by bloggers world-wide from behind the closed curtains of the internet – we will not be part of it.
Harwich Mayflower Project
I have (until your recent vitriolic messages) never criticised the project. I just pass on information you refuse to. Seeing as I was a volunteer for 18 months, I more than recognise the efforts of those at the project, especially the poor misguided volunteers. But I’m also very much aware from my time there that you guys couldn’t run a bath, never mind a multi million project. Yep, NOW I’m being negative. I have never insulted the staff and as usual, you say all this but provide no proof, because there is none. You have never been part of this blog nor have you ever been asked to. The very fact I can be independent and report the things you’d rather have swept under the carpet is because you are NOT a part of it. And thank God for that! As for bloggers and rife behaviour, it is due to freedom of speech that these “bloggers” you mentioned have been able to highlight corruption and illicit practices that would not otherwise have been made public. Personally, I think that a good thing. Maybe you don’t?
As I have always said. I am cautiously optimistic for the build, and live in hope that a large corporation will come along, kick you all out and do the job that you are so obviously unable to do. Please desist in contacting me with your propaganda and drivel, I’m finding it continually difficult to stomach it. You guys carry on believing your own publicity and spouting nonsense and I’ll carry on following what’s actually happening and passing it on. I wish you all well, especially the poor “distressed” Mr Day.
I was going to put a few comments here, because although they are placed on the side bar over there, a lot of people still miss them. I’d advise you to have a look to gauge the general feeling of people, both here and in the US. But, I received a comment a few hours back that I think is straightforward, pithy, and so very well written with lovely snatches of humour that it deserves a platform all of its own.
Crimsonseas, I salute you.
I’ve spent a lot of time around the project, looking over the walls nearly everyday; and I for one can’t understand these random side steps in progression with this project. If it’s failing, just admit it’s failing. Every article for the last 4 years covering this “community project” has shown it to be some god awful parody of what it perceives itself to be, some nautical historical disney land. where as the truth can only be described as “Carry on across the Atlantic”. Everything that goes slightly off target with it just gets the official response of “tis but a scratch” even though it’s had its arms chopped off and is standing on stumps, (don’t worry it’s official mayflower oak stumps, felled from the most holy of oak trees). The loss of charity status may not detriment it’s laughable income in donations from across the pond, but it does effect it’s status on the global stage as an “official” charity that wants to take place in these global 400 year anniversary celebrations that should be bigger than all of the olympics and world cup games put together, according to my last tour. I only want this project to seriously succeed so that when or if The Donald ever steps foot on it; I can at least watch them both sink together knowing that our backwater little town actually did something positive for the world.
But in all seriousness, I know my dreams of seeing this actually work out will never succeed because how can we take this seriously if it can’t get even the big business local to harwich itself on board? Where are those giant cheques from Hutchinsons or Trinity House, Where’s the list of businesses the HMP are on as official registered charities to lend it credence? Any small little idea can become a registered charity here in the UK. As far as i can see this has less substance, less impact on the local area, and less continual support from local business and credibility than a cat sanctuary that gets a few tins of cat food a week from Asda.
If anyone from HMP is reading this, perhaps it’s time you stop sniffing wood glue, you’re clearly more high than your neighbours in bathside.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: This blog does not condone the sniffing of wood glue, or any other substances used to fix wood together. We might like a drink now and again on a Friday night, and maybe a bag of pork scratchings, but that’s where we draw the line… OK there was that one time when someone said I could get a buzz from licking a frog, but I’m not counting that.
The Harwich Mayflower has recently held it’s Annual General Meeting, and while I was unable to be there, I have been contacted by several people who were.
Apparently it was a very ‘lively” debate with the HMP of course standing their corner and apparently evading several probing questions and refusing to actually give direct answers to direct questions. Basically no one was any the wiser after the event than before it. As one attendee at the AGM said to me “A lot of those guys have great futures as politicians when they move on”
It seems that the project is still reluctant to provide any information and continues to keep local residents and those further afield, in the dark about the build and how (if) and when it will progress. As such I have sent the following open email to the project and await their reply.
Dear Harwich Mayflower Project,
In the interests of local residents and those further afield that are interested in your statement to build a seagoing replica of the Mayflower, and while receiving a continued lack of information and complete opaqueness from yourselves, I would like to ask you to provide some answers and/or comments to the questions below. If you decide to reply, please be aware that the reply will be made public on theshipsblog.net, an online independent web log that follows the intended build of the ship.
While building of the ship stopped in 2014, and although the project has falsely stated in print since then that “shipbuilding can be viewed”, there has been no build since that date and nothing has been added to the build in the railway yard since 2014. Can you please tell me what the current status of the build is and what the current build plan is moving forward.
With only 723 work days from the 1st March 2017 until the 1st of Jan 2020 (3 years) are you still adamant that the build will be completed within two years and if so, again can you give details?
The training centre closed “temporarily” in 2016. If you are aware this is a temporary closure, can you give any idea as to when it will reopen?
Can you provide solid figures (and proof of such) of visitor numbers and what do you estimate future visitors to be now that several cruise liners are no longer operating to Harwich and there are only a few left. Again please give solid facts to back up your projections.
What is your current state of funding?
Do you have any kind of a business plan for approaching large businesses and corporations for funding and if so what is it? Also, have you contacted the National Lottery again since your first attempt at funding with them was declined, and if so what was the outcome?
Your social media does not reflect the the build, frequently just reposting messages. Are there plans to use this medium to actually inform people of progress at the Project? If not, why not.
What was the total cost of the new Visitor Centre and why was this funding not put towards the ship build. What are the future plans for this building that many see as an unnecessary expense. It is a seemingly nice idea for a flourishing tourist hub, but it is currently vacant and apparently filled with large poorly designed tapestry-like items showing the most basic of information.
While you continue to solicit donations for “building a boat” and with no ship build happening since 2014, can you please tell me what these donations have been used for?
If you continue to regard members of the public asking questions and looking for answers as “negative” how do you intend to move forward?