Before I round up this year, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for making this blog as popular as it is and for your continuing comments and emails. It is especially encouraging to get so much feedback from those of you across the pond.
As 2016 comes to an end, I’m going to do my usual end of year update and sadly report that as usual, nothing appears to be happening at the Mayflower Project. The part build which has stalled since 2014 still lies rotting in the Railway yard.
I had hoped that after their last message to this blog, someone from the Project would contact me to inform me and the readers just why there has been no progress in the build since 2014 and what the future holds. But as in the past, the project seemingly refuses to release any information at all, keeping their donators and the people of Harwich firmly in the dark.
Talking of their last message. I believe a Mr Sean day accused me of writing “ill informed garbage”. I’d just like to post a little comment here and leave you to make up your own mind about who’s talking garbage. On may 16th 2016 the Project gave an interview to British Heritage with the following statements in print:
“…go to The Railyard on George Street where you can watch the shipbuilding in action.”
“Shipbuilding began earlier this year”
Ms Lynda Chase-Gardener, a director of the Project, previously stated in the local press that the build would start in January 2016 after work ceased in 2014. Since work on the build stopped in 2014, and indeed right up to today, no work has been undertaken on the build. So why would the project say in print in May 2016 that work had started “earlier in the year” when they were fully aware it hadn’t? Why would they say “watch the shipbuild” when they were aware there was no build? I’ll leave you to make up your own mind on that. Also with a reported start to the build in Jan 2016, and nothing being built, it appears they are now a year behind their planned schedule.
The piece also said “Sea trials are planned for 2018” With no build in progress as we head into 2017 and the Project reporting they have been told it is a 2 year build, even my very basic maths can see a little issue there. Best put those plans on hold guys!
There was also a nice picture of a scale model which the Project has built. A model which may have a disliking for water. It’s been alleged that pieces of it began to fall of when it was recently displayed at a Harwich festival when it rained. Let’s think on that shall we? Ships… Water…
2016 also saw the closure of the training centre. Although touted as a “temporary” closure, there is still no news on when it is expected to re-open.
But as one door closes another opens and the Project unveiled a new visitor centre which was built using local government funding and as far as I know, no donations. So, no training centre and no ship build, but a new visitor centre. It’s not all bad!
Away from the ship build, papers were filed on 11th of November 2016 for “Termination of appointment of director”. Of course I have no idea who is leaving or why, but I feel it only fair to pass on the information. With several directors on the board, it is of course normal for them to come and go, so nothing should be inferred from this information.
As time goes on and we get closer and closer to 2020, it becomes a little worrying that the Project will be able to fulfil their promise of an ocean going replica, without a huge financial injection and a large labour force. As the year comes to a close, let’s hope they can get both.. and pretty quickly!
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
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.