This will be my last blog for a little while, although I’ll still be contactable via email and the “contact author” section, I will be unable to update any posts while I’m away. I’ve several things lined up before shortly heading off to the USA, travelling coast to coast over 12 weeks or so for research for a novel, as well as securing funds for MS and diabetes charities.
There was a comment on my last blog from a reader which stated “An opportunity to come clean now, surely. It would take just one Trustee, one honest person to take advantage of JK’s busy schedule and write the truth. By August?”
It seems someone was listening and a Mr Tony Elliston, a trustee and Vice Chairperson of the HMP has contacted me on behalf of the Project. We’ve been in conversation for a few days and he said that he’d like to put forward some HMP info for inclusion on the blog. So after a Trustee meeting today, I have been sent the following info and with the permission of Mr Elliston I am passing it on. I have placed my thoughts in brackets.
We intend to ask people in Harwich what they think and the way this process is starting is via the consultation meetings, the first of which was held last month. We are planning the next one and will announce the date shortly.
[Yes! Better late than never, this is so very badly needed. Not only do the people of Harwich need to know what is happening, they deserve a say in the future of their town. If these consultations are properly arranged and managed, they will be a great platform for the people of Harwich.]
Following today’s (Friday 16th June) Trustees meeting, we can tell you that, while we will continue to try to secure funds for the USA 2020 trip until we literally run out of time (March 2018) we have now committed to also build a shore based replica of the Mayflower which will remain in Harwich. This means that whether the USA trip happens or not, the Mayflower will be the centrepiece of Harwich celebrations in 2020.
[The original cut off date was announced as May 2018, it seems to have moved forward. I did state in an earlier post that I thought that the build would become a static visitor attraction, seems I was on the button with that one. I also stated that I saw the Project moving more in the direction of a heritage centre and moving away from a build. In my personal opinion I think that too is looking extremely probable. I feel that the HMP will become a central focus point for all things related to Harwich, but I can’t get rid of that nagging doubt that the dream of building a replica ship and sailing it to the US has died.]
We have drafted a volunteer policy for the organisation and we see this as the first step in enhancing the status of volunteers. In the next week or so, we will be seeking to re-establish the volunteers team and appoint a co-ordinator. We will be writing to those people who have volunteered in the past and undertaking a general advertising campaign.
An article in the Standard today talked about our new initiative. The station was not being used for training so, in collaboration with a local collector, we are establishing a transport heritage centre there. The station is being put back to the 1920s. One room is completed so far and volunteers are pressing ahead with four more. We should be able to announce an opening date soon. The Hazelton collection is also going to be properly curated and displayed, this includes a 1620’s showcase.
[Does this mean that the “temporarily closed” Training Centre is now permanently closed?]
The Trustees agreed today to re-establish the supporters group and (from the consultation meetings and wider) establish an advisory group so that Harwich people have a direct input into the project.
[Again, a very positive step in the right direction]
Looking ahead, we have invited the Military Wives Choir to perform at St Nicholas Church on 7th October. Tickets are available now at £15 and already in demand. [OK, I’ll let you get a free plug in 😉 ]
We are widening the vision but I think that is the way to make a difference here in Harwich.
[in my opinion, build or no build, anything that improves Harwich for the residents and promotes tourism and the wonderful town of Harwich can only be a good thing]
I had sent a mail to Mr Elliston ending with this paragraph.. “..So, let me state one thing for the record and you can quote me on this. If the Harwich Mayflower Project builds a seagoing replica ready to set sail to the US on 6th September 2020, I will stand on that ship while it’s in Harwich pier, walk the plank naked, and jump into the sea!”
Re the final paragraph of your last email, perhaps it would be kinder not to build the ship, is Harwich ready for you naked!
A vice chair with a sense of humour, things are definitely looking up at the Project!!
Well that’s it from me for now. Huge thanks to Tony Elliston at the HMP for reaching out and allowing me access to info from the Trustees meeting.
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?
Leaving the build for a bit. Every so often, the Harwich Mayflower Project will come to the attention of the media. They recently had several visits from local and national newspapers, including James Marston of the East Anglian Daily Times, who produced an excellent article with several photos and a video that give some background to what’s happening at the build. They were also recently mentioned in the Friday 18th July edition of the Daily Mirror, in a column by Paul Routledge, which unfortunately is not online.
Although this blog is primarily about the build of the ship, I think it’s worth putting a link in here and a few pictures from the recent opening of their visitor centre for you to check out. It’s also worth noting that the Project were paid a visit by their very own Mayflower Pipes and Drums band, check out the video to hear the bagpipes in action!! Photography/video and content: James Kelly.