I received an email this morning from a gentleman and his family from the USA. It turns out that I had given them a guided tour back in the day and they wanted to thank me for keeping them updated on progress (or lack of it) via the blog. This of course put me in a quandary. When I lived in Harwich, I was caught up in the romanticism of building a working replica of the Mayflower and became a volunteer and guide. Anyway, I gave dozens of tours and spouted the Project line, while in the process of garnering lots of donations (as I was told to do).
Basically this guy was under the impression that there was a “goal” for funding and assumed his donation would help the build. Now he is aware that the funding for any build seems to be sourced separately, and he jokingly asked me to refund his 20 bucks because he has no idea where it ended up. After a good natured back and forth of emails, I offered to make a donation to a charity in a kind of reparation (more for myself I suppose) but he was adamant that it was fine and he would “refuse such a thing.”
Now, I have been to the US several times and have had cause to be aware of St Jude hospital for children and the amazing work they do. Long story short, we agreed that I would make a donation to this wonderful charity as an “apology.” 😉 So in the interests of openness and total transparency, and to you Mr W and family, here’s that donation!
I usually try to do a half yearly update, but seeing as I wont be around for most of July and August, I’ve decided to do this a little early. Apologies for the hurried nature of the post and any errors, but I’m literally heading out the door!
The year started off as the last one ended, with no work of any sort taking place on a ship build. The HMP is a group of people with no shipbuilding experience based in a railway yard. Their staff consist of no shipwrights, and as such there continues to be no work of any sort on a build since 2014, and the current “build” consisting of a rapidly rotting part hull which has been deemed unusable (see below) still sits forlornly in the Railway Yard.
January: The chairman (Tom Daly*) “stands down” and Vice Chairperson (Lynda Chase-Gardner) “resigns” from the Project. Blanket reasons of “ill health” and “busy” are cited after they have gone but not attributed to either person. There was no further comment on why they left. But apparently they are still “advisers” to the Project.
February: The Harwich Mayflower Project loses it’s USA charity status, stating that they had “let it lapse”.
February: The Harwich Mayflower has its Annual General Meeting. 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”
March: A Harwich resident sends the following to the Blog:
I’ve spent a lot of time around the project, looking over the walls nearly everyday; and I for one can’t understand these random side steps in progression with this project. If it’s failing, just admit it’s failing. Every article for the last 4 years covering this “community project” has shown it to be some god awful parody of what it perceives itself to be, some nautical historical Disney land. where the truth can only be described as “Carry on across the Atlantic”. Everything that goes slightly off target with it just gets the official response of “tis but a scratch” even though it’s had its arms chopped off and is standing on stumps, (don’t worry it’s official mayflower oak stumps, felled from the most holy of oak trees). The loss of charity status may not detriment it’s laughable income in donations from across the pond, but it does effect it’s status on the global stage as an “official” charity that wants to take place in these global 400 year anniversary celebrations that should be “bigger than all of the olympics and world cup games put together”, according to my last tour. I only want this project to seriously succeed so that when or if The Donald ever steps foot on it; I can at least watch them both sink together knowing that our backwater little town actually did something positive for the world.
But in all seriousness, I know my dreams of seeing this actually work out will never succeed because how can we take this seriously if it can’t get even the big business local to harwich itself on board? Where are those giant cheques from Hutchinsons or Trinity House, Where’s the list of businesses the HMP are on as official registered charities to lend it credence? Any small little idea can become a registered charity here in the UK. As far as i can see this has less substance, less impact on the local area, and less continual support from local business and credibility than a cat sanctuary that gets a few tins of cat food a week from Asda.
March: The local Harwich and Manningtree Standard newspaper runs the following story.
Local council says “Harwich Mayflower Project no longer a major part of Harwich 2020 celebrations”
April: Still no sign of a ship build and the “temporary” closure of the Training school is still in place.
May: The HMP hold an “Open Session” for members of the public. A professional examiner of shipbuilding training was present at the meeting and stated the following:
“The build is not likely, especially as the structure as it stands would not pass scrutiny. Thus the build would have to start from scratch and I can’t see that happening”
The Project stated that they have set a cut off date of May 2018, which will see the Project unable to build a ship. It was said that if this is the case, the Project will revert to “Promotional activities” for the 2020 anniversary.
Questions were asked at the meeting, such as “why is there such limited information” and “why are the opening hours so erratic” but apparently, all questions were met with a bland and well rehearsed “We will address your concerns”
Pretty routine stuff, but apparently things heated up when a member of the public was heard saying “Sean Day (staff) and Robert Day (Trustee) are well known local wide boys who should not be encouraged to continue with their plans”.
June: The Project’s opening hours are cut from 9-5 to 9-1. Maybe a lack of visitors? Their “New” website goes live. They decide to use a framework I provided in 2015 and refuse to give me any credit. (see earlier post)
June: Another Director (Jeffrey Fidgett) resigns.
As of this post, and with the project stating they will “abandon all plans to build a ship if they do not have funding by March 2018″, I have to say that my optimism for a build has been practically extinguished. The Project’s current literature does seem to focus less on a build and more on a future consisting of a Harwich Heritage project. But as usual, I try to remain cautiously optimistic. As it has now been announced that the Project will be building an on shore replica, (which I forecasted in an earlier post) I am of the opinion that within a few months there will be an announcement of non committal to the original idea of a seagoing replica and the HMP will become little more than a Harwich museum.
*Tom Daly was one of the originators of the Harwich Mayflower Project back in 2006 or so (I may be a few years out either way). During my 18 months at the Project as a volunteer, I saw a great deal of Tom and spent a lot of time in his company. He is, in my opinion, one of the most personable and likeable men it has ever been my pleasure to meet. With his Irish lilt and obvious charm, he quickly became the front man for the Project. He made numerous TV and radio appearances and was often quoted in print talking about the Project. It is he who when asked by a TV reporter what would have happened if the ship hadn’t sailed, replied “Turkeys would be safe!” His devotion to the Project and the people of Harwich is unquestioned. Of course, I have no idea why he stepped down, but I’d still like to mention him here.
Several years ago I sat in on a meeting which Tom headed, discussing the future of the project. Without divulging any personal or HMP details, it is fair to say that by the end of the meeting, Tom’s love of the Project was obvious. He was close to tears when talking about the future of the Project and made an offer to pay any future shortfall in wages for Project workers from his own pocket, should the need arise. That is the measure of the man. His only thought was for the people working at the HMP and their immediate futures. In my opinion, Tom Daly was always only interested in what he could give to the HMP and how it would benefit the people of Harwich. He had no thought of making anything out of it for himself. I know from first hand experience the amount of time Mr Daly spent at the Project and I would assume (although I have no knowledge of it) that he also spent a lot of money on the Project as well.
Bearing this in mind, I find it amazing, and to be honest, a little sad, that the Project has so far made no public announcement thanking him for all his hard work after he stepped down. So with that in mind, I would like to publicly offer my own thanks.
Tom, thank you for all the hard work, time, and energy you put into the Project over the last ten or so years. Your presence as an honest and straightforward talking gentleman was a huge benefit to the HMP and I imagine it will be sorely missed. It was a pleasure to have known you and to have spent time in your company and the Mayflower Project is all the worse for your moving on. While I remain cautiously optimistic for a ship build, I think that without someone like you with your obvious love for the Project at the helm, someone who didn’t see what was in it for him, someone who wanted nothing more than to see the Ship floating alongside Harwich pier, and someone who put others before himself, I believe the build will be so much harder to achieve.
Again, from an ex volunteer. Thank you for everything you did for the HMP and for Harwich.
While the HMP still has no funding after setting up in 2010 and trying since then to gain funding, the piece further down the page has come from the local paper, The Harwich and Manningtree Standard. Dated 13th March ’17.
On a funding note, while the HMP ( a small group of amateurs trying to build a ship) has stated the build will cost £4 Million, here is what the professional boat builders at Mystic Seaport that are refurbishing Mayflower II have to say:
Experts determined the 106-foot (MayflowerII) ship is in surprisingly decent shape for a wooden vessel exposed to six decades’ worth of the elements. That’s good news, because junking the ship and building a new Mayflower from scratch — an option once under consideration — would have cost $15 million. (approx. 12 million pounds)
*****From The Harwich and Manningtree Standard. March 13th 2017*******
A PROJECT to build a replica of the ship that sailed the Pilgrim Fathers to America is no longer being viewed as a major part of Harwich’s plan for the Mayflower 2020 celebrations.
The Mayflower Project, based in George Street, aims to build a full-sized ocean-going replica of the Mayflower in time for the 400th anniversary of the voyage.
But following fears over whether the ship will be ready in time for the celebrations, town councillors said the project will now simply be viewed as a bonus to the Harwich and Dovercourt Tourism Group’s plans for the anniversary.
Speaking at a meeting of the town council on Tuesday, resident Dr Terry Rogers said: “We were told the build would commence in September 2016.
“At the Mayflower’s annual meeting it was made clear that currently they had no significant funds available and no build could start until funding was in place.
“It was further stated that £3million was being negotiated from a major media company.
“No date was given for the completion of the negotiation.”
Mr Rogers said that at the AGM, the chairman stood down and that the vice-chairman has since resigned.
He added: “Has the time come for Harwich Town Council to encourage a reshaping of the tourism plan with the Mayflower Project essentially disregarded, but seen as a bonus to the plan if an ocean ready boat does get built?”
Town councillor Ivan Henderson said it would “inappropriate” for the council to interfere with Mayflower Project’s business, but said the tourism group is “very clear” that Harwich has a lot to gain from the 2020 celebrations.
He added: “The tourism group sees the Mayflower Project as a bonus to the Mayflower 2020 celebration and that’s how we have been planning things with Tendring Council.
“Harwich has got enough history to develop a really good plan for a celebration to go ahead when the time comes.
“There’s plenty going on and plenty to celebrate without one particular project.
“But it has always been our hope that the project can go ahead.”
Ian Davidson, the district council’s chief executive, stressed that the Mayflower Project was “always only one part” of the Mayflower 2020 celebrations and that the whole aim of the project is to encourage tourism for years to come.
But Fred Nicholls, the new chairman of the Mayflower Project, said he is still hopeful that the boat can be built.
“We accept it’s very difficult to build the vessel, but we have not given up,” he said.
“We are in negotiations with some high profile companies and if we get the funds the ship will be built on time – it’s purely a question of funding.
“There have been funding problems with the Mayflower Project, however, we are doing everything in our power to rectify it.”
Oh dear, another message from the Project. I think I must be rattling their cage. Or to quote the immortal bard, “Methinks they doth protest too much”. I’m getting more than a little tired of this nonsense. Their message is in italics and my reply is in standard font.
Dear Mr Kelly,
FACTS. You wrongly address your blog to Mr Day. The authors of our last response were the Trustees of the Harwich Mayflower Project. We are disturbed that you are addressing these points to him – please desist in using the wrong addressees and causing unnecessary distress.
Facts? You guys wouldn’t know a fact if you fell over it. Here’s the “Facts”. Your latest message was sent from Sean.firstname.lastname@example.org who is not a trustee. if you want to send messages as trustees, get a trustee address and stop using a staff address. it’s not rocket science is it?
Also, you say I wrongly addressed my blog to Mr. Day. Please see the screenshot below.
As usual, you guys have skewed the truth to suit yourselves. The original message was from “Sean for the Trustees” The address was email@example.com. As such that was who the reply was addressed to and where the reply went, to be passed on to the trustees. “Distress”? Yep, I’m sure poor Mr Day had to sit down with a strong cup of tea and had to take a few days off work after receiving an email. Poor soul. Again, if the trustees want to send messages as the trustees, get an address. firstname.lastname@example.org would do the job. Once again, I shouldn’t have to tell you this.
The 2016 Newsletter was posted on our website – please look again.
I would if I could get access to your website. It has been unavailable for a while now (apparently according to google “this site may be hacked”) and as of this message, I still cannot gain access to your site as it is unavailable. How hard is it to use social media to give people information? Especially when your site has been down for so long.
Thank you for your summary of the project’s past but nothing you have said is new to us but of course you always skew the story. All of the potential benefits of sponsorship and donations require machinery which is built only with financial resources. We repeat, that sponsorship remains our primary target and if you can help then we would be grateful. Otherwise your negativity is not wanted.
Of course it’s not new, you’re continually rehashing the same old thing, and as for skewing the story, please do not judge me by your own low standards. I have presented nothing here but facts. Directors have stepped down followed by the vice director. You decided not to renew US charity status, the training centre has closed, the build (what there is of it) stalled in 2014 and has not recommenced. There is no build happening for people to come and see. etc. etc. What part of that truth is skewed? My being honest and reporting information you refuse to, is not negative. Your hiding the facts and lying to the public is negative.
Your assertion that the Heritage Centre’s costs would be better deployed on the ship build is noted but again wrong. We had no choice as the Heritage Centre costs were ring-fenced by local authorities and a family trust. Please re-read our website so that you are better informed.
You chose to build a heritage centre. You were not told to do so by local authorities. It was your choice to solicit funds for that project. It was your choice to get funds for a visitor centre and not for the ship. As you see, I am very well informed and again, I’d love to visit your website, but it remains unavailable.
In view of your irritation and constant criticism of the Harwich Mayflower Project, your failure to recognise the efforts of those making an honourable and proper contribution to Harwich and the local area as well as your insulting our staff we have come to the decision to cease all communication with your Ship’s Blog. This sort of behaviour has sadly become rife by bloggers world-wide from behind the closed curtains of the internet – we will not be part of it.
Harwich Mayflower Project
I have (until your recent vitriolic messages) never criticised the project. I just pass on information you refuse to. Seeing as I was a volunteer for 18 months, I more than recognise the efforts of those at the project, especially the poor misguided volunteers. But I’m also very much aware from my time there that you guys couldn’t run a bath, never mind a multi million project. Yep, NOW I’m being negative. I have never insulted the staff and as usual, you say all this but provide no proof, because there is none. You have never been part of this blog nor have you ever been asked to. The very fact I can be independent and report the things you’d rather have swept under the carpet is because you are NOT a part of it. And thank God for that! As for bloggers and rife behaviour, it is due to freedom of speech that these “bloggers” you mentioned have been able to highlight corruption and illicit practices that would not otherwise have been made public. Personally, I think that a good thing. Maybe you don’t?
As I have always said. I am cautiously optimistic for the build, and live in hope that a large corporation will come along, kick you all out and do the job that you are so obviously unable to do. Please desist in contacting me with your propaganda and drivel, I’m finding it continually difficult to stomach it. You guys carry on believing your own publicity and spouting nonsense and I’ll carry on following what’s actually happening and passing it on. I wish you all well, especially the poor “distressed” Mr Day.
While I will not be making a post here until the summer has gone and the build has started as promised (again!) I think the following comment to the blog sums up the feelings of the majority of people concerning this “Charity” project…..
“Overall very disheartening, that a charity that operated by deceptive behaviour has been allowed to continue.
If the RSPCA stopped looking after animals and instead began building some fools errand of a visitors centre, there would be national outcry… But at least the RSPCA is creditable.
The HMP has lost all credibility, the one section of the project that was actively making a difference is shut.
The build has stopped for close to 2 years and management are saying it’ll only take 2 years to build… Well why isn’t it done yet?
What are they doing? And why hasn’t anyone publically left the project because of this?
One of the above comments draws a parallel to a football team. When results arnt met managers step down. When teams fail, players arnt sacked managers are. Why isn’t anyone being forced to resign? And most importantly who is policing this project and public money?
Who decided to spend thousands of pounds on yet another shed when the soul point of the project was to build a ship… This isn’t the Harwich Shed Project is it??
I so badly want to support this endeavour, to make this work. But the team in charge arnt doing anything worth while, there are no fundraising events, there are no sponsored efforts and nothing of any real note. And the only reason why the most productive side of the project is closing, is probably to coerce more money from a failing council, an easily fooled public and a sympathetic government. We are all being deceived by liars and cheats.
It was a great idea, and forever will be a great idea but only an idea. “
(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
As you know from earlier posts, sometimes I like to move away from the build a little and give you a taste of what else is happening at the project, so my next few posts will be a little bit of background before I get back to the build.
Now that the visitor centre at the Harwich Mayflower Project is open, they’re getting lots of visitors (if you’re anywhere near, you can always pop down between 9am and 5pm week days) and as I wander around with my camera, sometimes I help out by taking people to look at the Mayflower. A few days ago, I was sitting in the office when a few guys walked in and asked if they could see how the project was progressing. It turned out they had arrived by boat and their barge was moored at the Harwich Quay. After they had a tour, myself and Sean Day were invited to have a look at their barge. I grabbed my camera and followed them to the quay and this time it was my turn to be the visitor and take a tour around their boat, “Nooit Volmaakt”, which is Dutch for “Never perfect”. The guys welcomed us in and put the kettle on for some of the best coffee I’ve had in a while. It turns out that not only was the owner a mean coffee maker, he’s also part of a troupe called “Prates of the carabina” and on top of that he’s also called Fluffy! No, I didn’t ask.
After listening to some seafaring stories and enjoying some wonderful hospitality, I left the Three Men in a Boat and headed back to the Project, but not before I got some pictures for you. Photography and content: James Kelly