UPDATE: I’ve added a comment received after this was first posted.
Sorry for the lack of updates here, but I started this blog to follow a ship build, which unfortunately came to nothing. I didn’t create it to follow a rail “museum”, which is currently what the Harwich mayflower Heritage Centre/Project are promoting.
So as the ship build is dead in the water and there is no progress at all with any kind of a build, I’ve had nothing to update. The only thing I can pass on (apart from the usual directors coming and going) is that there has been a name change. The Harwich Mayflower Project has become Harwich Mayflower Heritage Projects LTD.
As far as the Charity goes, it seems from the pic below (of a charity name check) that the Mayflower Project which was registered as the Charity arm of the project is now renamed asThe Harwich Mayflower Heritage centre. Pic from. Charitycommission.gov.uk
So it would seem the debacle that was the Mayflower Project has finally been laid to rest. R.I.P Harwich Mayflower Project.
Therefore, as this is now a limited company and not a charity – all donations, including those given by visiting North American tourists MUST be returned to them, as it was taken on the premise that a ship was to be built. This does not look good for the town and all the hard work that will be done regarding the 400th anniversary in 2020. My book “The Mayflower of Harwich” which is on sale with Amazon, praises the hard work that was being done when I wrote it, regarding Harwich rising from the ashes to celebrate the 400th anniversary by building a replica of the most famous ship that ever sailed. I am now very much embarassed about writing it !!
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.”
There are thousands of people following this blog both here in the UK, and in the US as well (even in Brazil!). Every now and then, one of these lovely people will pass me on something Mayflower related. I have just been sent a link to a facebook video today and thought as I had a few minutes I’d watch it. After seeing it, I paused in disbelief and had to put a post up here.
Apparently there’s no such thing as bad publicity. But after seeing this promotional video, (link at bottom of page) I’m not so sure.
OK, let’s debunk the “fake news” that Sean Day (HMP Executive) thrives on and address the points he makes.
1: “The Mayflower was built in Harwich”
While the Mayflower is stated “Of Harwich” in port records, (this denotes where she was berthed at the time records were made) there is no verifiable proof that it was actually built in Harwich. But truthfully saying “We’re assuming she was built in Harwich” wont help the cause will it?
2: “We’re going to re-enact the journey in 2020”
The Project have been trying to get funding to build the ship since 2010. They have no funding and have set a cut off date of 8 months from today (March 2018) before they run out of time. There is no ship being built at this moment, and in my opinion they are aware there wont be a ship build. They’re just killing time until they announce they wont be building it, instead I think they’ll be looking to build a model on land as a tourist trap.
3: “We took over an old training school which is also on our estate”
The training school was closed “temporarily” in mid 2016 and remains closed. The building that housed it is now being used for a different purpose and it looks like the training school will remain closed. Hmm, “Our estate”. Nice choice of words, I’ll keep that in mind for the future.
4: “We’re about to open a national railway museum”
No you’re not. A national museum is one owned and operated by the state. Examples of National museums are The British Museum, The Imperial War Museum and The National Gallery in London. The Mayflower Project is about to open a small local “museum” run by themselves in a few rooms in a railway station.
5: “We will finish the ship on time”
The project has admitted it cannot even start the build because it has no (and cannot find) funding. How can you finish something if you haven’t even started it! But again, truthfully saying “If we manage to get funding and can build the ship, we hope to deliver it on time” wont help the cause.
6: “If you think you can help in any way, contact us”
Well dear reader, it’s your money. But ask yourself this. Is there a reason why these guys have been struggling to get funding for the last 7 years and have been turned down for lottery funding?
7: “When I read your email [about a swimming gala] I thought you were pulling my leg”
Sean mate, you’d go to the opening of an envelope.
8: “We have had confirmation that Branson will be on the maiden voyage”
I have contacted Mr Branson’s representatives, asking for confirmation of this and have also given them the link to this video asking them to confirm Sean Day’s statements and to verify Branson’s involvement with the Project.
9: “We’re top of the pops on trip advisor”
You’re actually number 8 of things to do, behind such places as The Electric Palace, The Redoubt Fort, Halfpenny Pier and the beach. The latest TripAdvisor comment on your page from 30th April was “Anything happening here?”
10 “1000 visitors a week”
That’s over 100 a day, really? You do of course have verifiable proof of that?
11. “Reinstating USA charity status”
If the HMP do reinstate their US charity status, I’d like to offer a little advice to all the Americans out there. If you want to help a ship build, please give your hard earned cash to the guys at Mystic Seaport who are doing an amazing job renovating Mayflower II.
Regarding the video, it’s painfully obvious how much the Harwich Mayflower Project misses Tom Daly (Ex Chairman) as a front man. Sean Day’s falseness and pathetic attempts at “humour” just go to emphasise the genuine warmth and charm of Tom Daly.
Mr Day. If you want to promote the Project and come across as a professional, please don’t try so hard to appear like nothing more than a bumbling Sunday market wide boy. And try not to tuck your shirt into your pants on camera. Seriously man, if you want to put across a professional persona, get some media training. Tom Daly oozed charm. You just seem to ooze false and untrustworthy.
[I have been flooded with an email saying I was negative towards Mr Day. On reflection, my comment about his dropping his “H’s” has nothing to do with his ability, or lack of it, to run the Project. As such I have removed the sentence that mentioned this]
If you look closely at the first few minutes of the video you can practically see Sean Day working the DM like a puppet. Mr DM You missed a golden opportunity right at the start of the vid to push Harwich and everything about it. Watch Sean Day as the Deputy Mayor speaks, you can practically see him thinking “Come on, come on, we rehearsed this so many times for God’s sake!”
Isn’t it about time the HMP came up with something new and fresh, apart from the same old rubbish they’ve been trotting out for the last 7 years or so. The same tired old jokes and facts were given to me to push when I was a volunteer guide. “Lady Gaga..hahaha. Swimming with a waterproof letter.” Oh my aching ribs ZZzzzzz. Sean, your routine is getting dated, you need some new material my friend. But at least you got a plug in for that hotel starting with an “M”.
This video is a prime example of all that is wrong with the Project. Unfortunately guys, you’ve shot yourselves in the foot and you come across as rank amateurs. Anyone watching this that has any sense at all would run a mile and take their money with them!
BRING BACK TOM DALY!!!!!
On the subject of Tom Daly. I’ve just heard that he is recovering after a spell in hospital and an operation. On behalf of this blog and its readers, I’d like to send him my best wishes for a speedy recovery.
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.
Isn’t it always the way. You hear from nobody for ages and then (like buses) they all come together. After hearing from a journalist a few days ago who is doing a piece on the Mayflower Project, I received a message from a Mr Sean Day on behalf of the Trustees of the Project. The message in it’s entirety is below, followed by my reply.
RESPONSE TO THE SHIP’S BLOG OF FEB 17
Dear Mr Kelly,
Thank you for your continuing interest in the Harwich Mayflower Project and we are pleased that you remain cautiously optimistic for our build. As you know we are but a small band of enthusiasts who simply want to build a Mayflower replica and sail her across the Atlantic in 2020. We have time but our most pressing requirement – and always has been – is the need for a big sponsor. This is a £4m project and needs serious money. So far we have had the benefit of some generous benefactors to help us cover operating costs but this cannot go on for we need to build. You should bear in mind that much has been done as indicated in our (end of) 2016 Newsletter. As with any such enterprise there are overheads to be paid for; there is ground rent, utility payments, licences, insurances and wages for our handful of staff.
As far as the 501(C) 3 is concerned, yes it is advantageous but we have to apply a cost/benefit analysis to our spending commitments and the renewal of that US tax exemption would cost us $3,000 as recently quoted to us. When we have more funds we can revisit that as an investment overhead. In the meantime our staff and Trustees are working tirelessly trying to obtain donations and funding but during these austere times it is an uphill battle. Our hardworking folk, including volunteers, do not need sniping or negativity from afar or even from the couple of detractors in Harwich. It is hurtful not only to us but also to the Project. There is nothing untoward or “funny going on” in what we are doing and our accounts are properly lodged as required by Charity legislation.
Finally, by all means watch the Project with interest but please bear in mind the bigger picture. We are updating our web site with what we are doing and there will be more news in the next month or so. If you or your cohorts can help with positive ideas or suggestions then we will be willing to listen intently. We welcome visits to the yard but aggressive and groundless criticisms are unhelpful and counter-productive.
Harwich Mayflower Project
Dear Mr Day.
Thank you for finally contacting me, a month after I sent an email asking about the ship build. I see you still refuse to answer any questions about when and if the build will commence. I’ll ask again, what are your plans to build a ship and when do you see this starting?
There was a 2016 newsletter? You’ll have to excuse my not seeing the notifications of that on your social media or website. You did let people know there was a newsletter? Talking of news, I have garnered one piece of information from your email that I was unaware of. After seven years of trying, you are no closer to getting the funds for the ship than you were when you started. Austerity? I’m surprised you didn’t blame Brexit as well!
I want to commend you for actually taking the time to reply to a member of the public, but I would like to also take you to task on the final paragraph of your message. “Cohorts”? I’m assuming this refers to the thousand plus people that follow my blog each month. Or the hundreds of subscribers. Or the people of Harwich that read my blog and are exasperated by your continual lack of information and refusal to answer the most basic of questions. Or maybe it refers to the gentleman from Mystic Seaport that contacted me, or the boat owner who moors in Harwich and wanted to know what was going on. Or maybe the American journalist who thought the project had gone “Kaput” because there is no information coming form you and turned to me for information? Whatever. I also take exception to your assumption of “negativity” and “groundless criticism”. My blog has been, and remains so, a place to follow progress of the Project and inform people as to what is happening. I have as you point out at the start of your message, always been cautiously optimistic and remain so even in the face of the continuing rubbish and downright lies emanating from yourselves. If there is any negativity surrounding the project, it is unfortunately due to the Project itself.
What’s hurtful to the Project is not the public seeking answers, it’s your continued refusal to let people know what is happening and acting like a secret society instead of a public charity. If you continue to hide away and refuse to be honest and open, that Mr Day, will be more hurtful to your project than any blog. You will find no negative, groundless or aggressive comments in my blog. I am simply passing on information that you yourselves do not.
For example. Mr Tom Daly, one of the originators of the HMP has stepped down as a director after seven or so years. This is a man who has contributed endless hours of time and money to the Project, yet you can’t find it in you to make a post online (web, social media) thanking him for all he’s done. Seriously?
The training centre closed “temporarily” and remains closed a year later.
Also. There has been and continues to be, no ship build since 2014. Stop telling people there is a build. There isn’t. Stop telling them to come and see the build progress, there isn’t any.
You refuse to pay $3000 to get US charity status. Are you crazy? You pay tens of thousands for a visitor centre but can’t get the cash for US charity status? You do realise that the Mayflower is a HUGE part of American history? You are aware that every American schoolchild is taught the story? You are aware that every American adult knows the name Mayflower? You do know that there are 35 million people in the US descended from the original 24 males on the Mayflower? Yet you decide to not get US charity status? Ok here’s a criticism for you. You’re idiots!
As for positive ideas Mr Day, here you go. Get your act together. Put up or shut up. If after seven years you still can’t get funding to build a ship, then you should step down and get someone in who can. If you can build it, then do it, if you can’t, have the balls to say so and move on. At the very least you should let people know what the hell is happening behind the murals of the Harwich Railway Yard.
James Kelly (and cohorts)
“loss of 501(c)(3) status can be highly challenging to a charity’s continued operation, as many foundations and corporate matching programs do not grant funds to a charity without such status, and individual donors often do not donate to such a charity due to the unavailability of the deduction.”
It appears from the Harwich Mayflower website as well as various US Gov sites, that they have lost their US charity status. This comes in a few weeks when there has been a flurry of activity at the project, which includes the chairman stepping down and then the vice chairman stepping down as well.
While I remain cautiously optimistic that the project will one day build the ship as promised, I have to be honest, with time ticking by and their continued refusal to talk to members of the public (the same public that they are asking for donations) I’m of the opinion that the build may not end up as originally envisioned. Maybe they’ll drop the ship build and just become a Harwich Heritage centre, maybe they’ll get pieces built off site and build it like a kit, maybe they’ll scale it down and build a model in dry dock, maybe they’ll just continue to stumble along as they are? Who knows, apparently not even the project themselves.
Although my email to them asking about the build was opened and read at 10.29pm on February 2nd, they have of course not replied. No, I’m not surprised either. Let’s remember that these people are a charity asking for help from the public, yet continue to refuse to give any information to the public on what they are doing.
Seriously, how hard is it? Come on guys, get your act together. You’re either building a ship or you’re not. As time goes on you’re losing more and more credibility, to the point where people are beginning to think that there’s something “funny” going on. Remember the old saying:
You can fool some of the people some of the time, but most people can see through you. 🙂
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?