The aim of this blog has always been to update the public on the build of the Mayflower, especially those of you across the pond who get no joy from the Project itself. While the build is sadly stagnant and has been since 2014, I’ll still bring any updates that I can. Thank you all for your continued support and comments. I will eventually get round to replying to you, especially the gentleman working at Plimoth Plantation, again thanks for your input and your thoughts,
This post was originally going to update you with a news article from 8th April. But recent events mean I am re-writing it to take account of the latest news to come out of the Project.
8th April ( From Harwich and Manningtree Standard)
Concerns have been raised there had been a lack of progress at the Harwich Mayflower Project, which aims to build and sail a replica of the Mayflower to the USA in 2020.
Harwich Town Council heard residents were worried about the lack of visible progress at the project’s yard in George Street.
Dr Terry Rogers said he feared the project, which has been running for six years, would not be complete in time for the celebrations.
He called on the council and the Harwich and Dovercourt Tourism Group to ensure alternative arrangements were put in place.
“I agree that if progress on the Mayflower was real and visible, it could have a major positive impact on tourism in the area,” he said.
“However, the highly visible lack of construction progress makes me wonder if the tourism group has put too much emphasis on the yet-to-be achieved success of the project.”
Lynda Chase-Gardener, vice-chairman of the Mayflower Project board of trustees, said the ship would be ready on time.
“It’s a two-year build and professionally qualified engineers have confirmed it is a two-year build – so we are on track to sail in 2020,” she said.
“We expect to recommence the main structure of the build later this summer.”
********** End of article.
I’m guessing that this is the same Ms Chase-Gardener that previously said the build would start in January 2016, while still ignoring repeated requests from local residents for information as to why the build has not progressed since 2014 even though donations are still being made and asked for. As there has been no build in the last two years, where have all those donations gone?
I look forward to bringing you all up to date as the build progresses in June, July or August. (Officially British summer, but as us Brits know, summer is usually three days in July)
Anyway, on to the latest…
6th May (From Harwich and Manningtree Standard)
Harwich Mayflower Centre to close.
HARWICH Mayflower Project’s training centre is set to close “temporarily” due to a lack of funding.
Bosses at the project, which is based in George Street, said staff at the training centre had been asked whether they want to accept voluntary redundancy.
Graham Richardson, general manager, said the move would have no impact on the plans to build a full-size ocean-going replica of the English merchant ship that took the Pilgrim Fathers to America in 1620.
“We are going through a short-term closure of the training centre to seek further funding for the training programme,” said Mr Richardson.
*********End of article
That really is sad, but not unexpected news. While the Project as a whole continues to keep people in the dark, refusing to be transparent with funding and continually taking donations without accounting for them, and refusing to update the build progress, I think we may expect more bad news on the horizon.
Here are the comments from the newspaper articles:
No surprises there then. Some nice buildings going up though.
(This refers to the ‘viewing gallery’ currently being built with £20,000 funding from the local council.. Which may have been better spent on the training centre hm?)
Lynda Chase-Gardener is either extremely gullible or complicit in the ongoing “training” scam that is The Mayflower Project. Who exactly is going to build the ship in two years? Unskilled trainees? I think not. I would like to see a list of the qualified instructors, shipwrights, skilled craftsmen and administrators who will build the ship in two years. I would also like to have sight of the professionally qualified engineers’ reports that prompt Lynda Chase-Gardener to
risk her name and integrity by claiming that “the ship will set sail in 2020”.
Harwich Town Council seem confident that alternatives to the ship itself would provide a focus for the celebrations. Not quite accepting that the Mayflower Project is crooked, Harwich Town Council officers appear undisturbed by the racket in our midst.
I am waiting for a report from accountants with their opinions, and when I have studied that I will finalise the draft I am preparing for the Charity Commission copied to Bernard Jenkin MP.
I accept that I too risk my name and integrity by pursuing this course but if we cannot rely on Council officers to intervene then we the public must take a stand. I urge you to join me.
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: http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/harwich-mayflower-project-23553). 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: http://www.harwichandmanningtreestandard.co.uk/news/13924907._Will_Mayflower_ship_be_ready_for_pilgrim_crossing_anniversary__/)
“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.
As my little blog has today received it’s 300th email follower and sees an average of 1000 visitors a week from all over the world, but mostly the USA (waves to everyone across the pond). I think it’s time I got back in the swing of things and gave you guys an update.
Well it’s been almost a year since the last update to the build (the adding of a frame) and since then… Absolutely nothing has happened. The existing build still lays in the yard as it did ten months ago, the only difference is that it’s weathered and worn and starting to crack as it’s continually exposed to the elements. I’m not a shipwright, although I’m guessing that by now, some of the build will be unusable and will have to be replaced.
Talking of Shipwrights, I’d like to say a big thank you to Chris who contributed some excellent pictures and words to earlier posts. He was the one and only Shipwright at the Mayflower and has now moved on to other things. A great guy and very skilled at his chosen trade, I’d like to wish him well in whatever he’s doing now.
So, nearly a year and there’s been no work done on the build. As you know I have no access to the inner workings of the Project and I know no more than anyone outside the Project, which at the moment is absolutely nothing. There are no newsletters coming out, no announcements, no posts on the website as to why there hasn’t been any work on the build and the Facebook and Twitter feeds are less than useless for information. There has been no contact from anyone at the Project to say what is happening or why work has stopped, although it seems the local community is starting to feel a little uneasy. I’ve had several comments sent on to me to the effect that the Project is “a scam” and mentioning “friends and families” contacting “the Charities Commission”. While I have no idea as to the basis for these comments, nor in fact do I assume there to be any misappropriation of funds or any wrongdoing at the Project, this gives an example of feelings amongst the community that have risen due to (one would assume) a lack of any information.
I would hope that the New Year will bring news of a flurry of activity as the build progresses, but at the moment, who knows.
There you go, that’s all from me for now. Not much of an update, but then there’s nothing that’s been updated! If there is any change at the project I will of course let you know, but change or not, my next post will be my usual end of year update.
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. James Kelly: theshipsblog.net
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.
(Pssst, Mayflower Project, you can have that tagline for free. It’d look great on a T shirt!)
While I’m unable to bring you any new photography or content until July, I thought I’d take this opportunity to give you a visual update of exactly where the project is using previous pics. For those of you new to the blog, in a nutshell, the Mayflower Project is based in Harwich UK and is building a full size replica of the Mayflower (using old English Oak and original methods where possible) to sail to the US in 2020 following the route of the original voyage. As far as I’m aware, there will be no other Mayflower recreating the voyage for the 400th anniversary. if you’re a historian, teacher, student, sailor or just have an interest in ships, this is THE blog to follow!! Watch the Mayflower as she grows from a few bits of Oak in a yard, to a ship that will follow the route of the pilgrims to the New World.
As you can see from these past images, the ship currently has the keel in place, the sternpost and the first rib is up. There is approximately 9-10 tons of oak in these pictures. Photography and content: James kelly
After a small hiatus The Ship’s Blog is coming back. The blog had issues with funding, time and finding someone to take the reins. Now I’m happy to say the immediate future of the blog is safe and from early July, we will again be providing you with regular updates of the amazing undertaking that is The Harwich Mayflower Project.
If you were following us before, welcome back. If you’re a new follower, stick with us to see a full size wooden ship being built from scratch and sailed across the Atlantic. By the way, this isn’t just any old wooden ship, it’s The Mayflower!
As the New Year settles in, I decided to venture down to the Mayflower Project in the hope of getting a few more pictures for you. I was lucky enough to arrive as the first of the frames was being lifted into place. It was a bit of a murky day and as the cloudy skies gave way to rain, the shipwrights worked through it to get the frame up. What immediately struck me as the frame rose above the keel was how small it looked. How did 102 passengers make such a perilous journey in such a small space?
Chris Conway, the Mayflower shipwright, was again kind enough to mail me a few words on this stage of the build and this is what he had to say..
“After aborting the lift of Frame 20 before Christmas due to high winds, we have been lucky enough with the weather on our return back to work to have both sides of the main frame up.
Although the overall weight of each side of the frame only weighed in at around 600kg, we had to ensure that the frame was balanced when it was lifted so that it would line up correctly with the floor (The floor is the ‘y’ shaped base that fits onto the keel and can be seen in earlier posts) that was already temporarily bolted in place before Christmas. We used an “endless fall” to allow us to tweak the angle of the frame so we could fit the two bolts into the holes that had already been drilled on the framing floor.
As mentioned in an earlier post this frame has only been placed in situ on a temporary basis, but it has been a worthwhile exercise on how we go about cutting and fitting the frames in future.
Our next aim is to start fitting the forward keel section and deadwood. Hopefully now that we have sourced the correct bolting material, we can get the bolts made to start bolting up the back end of the ship. ” Photography: James kelly. Content: James Kelly/Chris Conway
As with all posts, any image can be clicked on to enlarge it.
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.
I’ve been horrendously busy for a little while, so I’ve been unable to get to the Mayflower Project to follow the build for the last few weeks. Fortunately, the Mayflower shipwright, Chris Conway, took pictures in my absence and I’m putting them up here for you. Things are moving swiftly at the project and it looks like we may see the first frame (rib) up by Christmas!
The Project recently received a consignment of timber and frame 20 has now been completed. As I wasn’t around for either of these events and I don’t really know the difference between a futtock and a haddock, (although I suppose the smell might be a bit of a giveaway), I asked Chris if he would write a few words for you about the Grimsby wood and Frame 20. Some of the pictures below are mine and some were taken by others, but the words are all by Chris. Yep, you actually get to hear from the Shipwright building the Mayflower! OK Chris, Over to you……..
We have just received a delivery of English Oak from a Timber Merchant in Grimsby, this timber has been selected for the front part of the Ship’s backbone which includes the stem, and forward sections of the keel. We also have around six of the main floors and chocks that will be used for the main frames and a number of futtocks to make up two frames.
Each frame is made up of smaller parts called futtocks and these are attached to the floor timber which spans across the keel, ideally timber is chosen so that the grain runs true to the curved shape of each futtock. Although we have some logs in the yard these are not suitable for the amidships frames as the curvature is too shallow and therefore not suitable, but hopefully they will be used for the forward frames which don’t require as much curvature.
One of the benefits of buying in timber from a timber merchant is that it has already been selected for us using patterns taken from the loft floor and milled to the correct sided dimension, ready for us to cut out the correct shape.
We are now in the process of raising the first frame, which although wouldn’t usually happen at this stage of the build, we wanted to see how we would go about cutting each piece and work out a system to put them together and lift one in place. It also gives the visitors a visual idea of the size of the ship. This frame will be carefully blocked and shored up and will not be finally fitted until the backbone is finished and suitable datum lines established.
We have cut each futtock using a chainsaw with a modified bar with rollers that allows us to scroll round each curved line, this has proven very successful and could possibly be the way we cut all the frame sections.
Our other option is to use the very old tilting bed bandsaw that we have in the yard, but this requires a significant amount of work to be done to get it in an operational condition which we are trying to raise funds for. Content: James Kelly. Photography: James Kelly (truck courtesy of HMP). Content: James Kelly/Chris Conway.
Yes, you read that right. The guys at the Project have started work on their first frame. As this is the first major update to the ship build in a while, I’ll be uploading quite a few pictures and going into this part of the build in a little more depth than usual.
As I’m not a shipbuilder, I decided to see if I could have a chat with the shipwright to see how this part of the build would progress and how they were moving forward. Although Chris Conway is an extremely busy man, he was happy to sit down with me for a while and talk me through how frame 20 would be built. I didn’t take notes or make any record of our chat, so for all you boat building types out there, please excuse me if I make any mistakes.
If you look at the drawing in my last post, you’ll see some numbers along the bottom. Each of these numbers is a separate frame and you can see that frame 20 is midships. The frames of the ship are the ribs which will see the the body of the ship starting to take shape.
Frame 20 is being made from Oak that is already in the Project yard. It will also be using some wood sourced from Grimsby. Although the project has tons of wood available to them in their yard, they need logs with a curve to allow them to cut the curved futtocks (sections of the frame) with the grain. Cutting a curved futtock from straight grain will result in a week section, which could snap under stress.
The pictures below show the oak being cut and each separate futtock as it makes up the frame. As you can see, the frame will be double width with the top futtocks overlaying the join of the bottom sections.
Any picture can be clicked on to get an enlarged version.
The image below shows the positioning of the section of frame pictured. This drawing looks along the ship and shows the completed frame in cross section. Drawing used with permission of THMP. original source, Graham Westbrook
The section of frame shown in my photos is the part of the frame between ‘A’ and ‘B’. The green lines show the sections (futtocks) on the bottom of the frame, while the purple lines show the futtocks on the top of the frame. The ‘floor’ of the frame and some further sections may (as already mentioned) be sourced from a Grimsby woodyard.
Once again, thanks to Chris for taking the time to explain this to me and for providing extra pictures. Content: James Kelly. Photography: James Kelly/Chris Conway.