A Harwich Mayflower update

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


  1. Jim Francis.

    Such a shame that an ambitious project such has this, has lost it’s way. It was too big of a project for the small town to take on.Harwich has difficulty feeding itself each night, let alone building a 6 million dollar ship. All in the hopes of raising money from tourism. My only observation from my brief visit a few months ago, was that there was maybe one apprentice. And a host of employees looking busy, effectively doing nothing. How very sad, I hope they get a host of American dollars soon.

  2. Pat Claus

    Wow, just as I had feared about this build!!! Had heard nothing in so long I’d lost hope that this was going to happen. I am one of the people who gave money to it as well, although it was just 30 pounds. I do wonder what became of everyone’s money they had contributed?? Perhaps we’ll never know. Such a shame. I guess here in New England we have enough to do just for the upkeep of the Mayflower II, and it does take a huge amount of money, as any wooden ship does.

    Thanks so much for letting us know! If it weren’t for you there would be no communication about this at all.

    Pat Claus Mayflower member, Maine

    • George Cushman

      Indeed, Pat Claus!!! I have been on the sailing crew of Mayflower II and currently am employed at Plimoth Plantation in Plymouth, MA, USA. I’ve been trying to follow this Harwich Mayflower Project with keen interest for quite some time now. It at one time seemed so promising, but then news and updates just seemed to end. Nothing new was being forthcoming. Work just seemed to reach a standstill. Very sad. Discouraging. But not wholly unexpected. Indeed, Pat, it seems Mayflower II is destined to remain the only Pilgrim Ship replica in existence. She is currently due to continue a multi-year restoration at Mystic Seaport during the next few winters, aimed at restoring her to her original 1957 condition. This is perhaps as it should be. All the Best from Plymouth, MA!!!!

  3. Steve cross

    My name is Steve Cross. I live in southwest Georgia,USA, near Iron City, Georgia. I am perhaps the only commercial Live Oaker in the world. I recently supplied the Southern Live Oak Frame Stock for the San Salvador Ship recreation built and recently launched by The Maritime Museum of San Diego California. I also am going to supply Southern Live Oak Frame Stock for The Ernestina/Morissey rebuild. It is the state ship of Massachusetts.
    I have been attempting to follow The Harwich Mayflower build.I agree that “No News is Not Good News”. A public project has to be just that “A public project”.
    To see some of what We do google “Cross Sawmill/YouTube” and several videos will come up.
    Thanks, Steve Cross
    Remember, A wooden boat is a hole in the water to pour money, A wooden ship is a big hole.

  4. James Reymond

    Thanks for this informative article. I too share your hope that the Mayflower sails in 2020. Privately I know this project needs to succeed, it will have a huge residual benefit for Harwich but common sense and the project being re-defined and facillitated has to happen first. I’m up for helping this happen from here, but not in anything such as described below. Best, J xx

  5. D williams

    Dear James.
    I have just come across your blog which confirmed some of the suspicions I had about the projects progress…or lack of, following a visit to the site before Christmas. I’m interested in wooden boat building and spent two years out from teaching Drama (yes,you read that correctly) to gain some basic skills in traditional wooden boat building at Falmouth Marine School and The Boat Building Academy, Lyme Regis. When I was told about the project by a friend in Manningtree, I decided to drive down from Needham Market to have a look.

    Whilst I found the information and video in the portakabin interesting and well organised, I couldn’t help thinking that the team were being extremely optimistic if they imagined the Mayflower was going to be finished by 2020.

    I felt I would like to help and offered my name, address and a few details about myself to the lady behind the desk, stating that if I could help out practically with the build, I would be more than happy to become involved. Two years and a City and Guilds Level 3 in Boat repair and Maintenance doesn’t make me a boat builder but I thought I might be able to help in some small way.

    To cut a long story short, I heard nothing from the “team” and assumed they did not require volunteers. I notice however that when accessing the website, they’re well organised enough to ask for online donations !
    Something does not feel right about this project and I feel sorry for those who have donated to a project which to my eyes is clearly “Dead in the Water, ” although to be honest, the only water the keel and frame will experience is that from the heavens above.

    I hope I am proved wrong and wish anyone involved in the build good luck; somehow I think you’re going to need it.
    Dick Williams

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