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.”
“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 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.
(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 the New Year settles in, I decided to venture down to the Mayflower Project in the hope of getting a few more pictures for you. I was lucky enough to arrive as the first of the frames was being lifted into place. It was a bit of a murky day and as the cloudy skies gave way to rain, the shipwrights worked through it to get the frame up. What immediately struck me as the frame rose above the keel was how small it looked. How did 102 passengers make such a perilous journey in such a small space?
Chris Conway, the Mayflower shipwright, was again kind enough to mail me a few words on this stage of the build and this is what he had to say..
“After aborting the lift of Frame 20 before Christmas due to high winds, we have been lucky enough with the weather on our return back to work to have both sides of the main frame up.
Although the overall weight of each side of the frame only weighed in at around 600kg, we had to ensure that the frame was balanced when it was lifted so that it would line up correctly with the floor (The floor is the ‘y’ shaped base that fits onto the keel and can be seen in earlier posts) that was already temporarily bolted in place before Christmas. We used an “endless fall” to allow us to tweak the angle of the frame so we could fit the two bolts into the holes that had already been drilled on the framing floor.
As mentioned in an earlier post this frame has only been placed in situ on a temporary basis, but it has been a worthwhile exercise on how we go about cutting and fitting the frames in future.
Our next aim is to start fitting the forward keel section and deadwood. Hopefully now that we have sourced the correct bolting material, we can get the bolts made to start bolting up the back end of the ship. ” Photography: James kelly. Content: James Kelly/Chris Conway
As with all posts, any image can be clicked on to enlarge it.
I’ve been horrendously busy for a little while, so I’ve been unable to get to the Mayflower Project to follow the build for the last few weeks. Fortunately, the Mayflower shipwright, Chris Conway, took pictures in my absence and I’m putting them up here for you. Things are moving swiftly at the project and it looks like we may see the first frame (rib) up by Christmas!
The Project recently received a consignment of timber and frame 20 has now been completed. As I wasn’t around for either of these events and I don’t really know the difference between a futtock and a haddock, (although I suppose the smell might be a bit of a giveaway), I asked Chris if he would write a few words for you about the Grimsby wood and Frame 20. Some of the pictures below are mine and some were taken by others, but the words are all by Chris. Yep, you actually get to hear from the Shipwright building the Mayflower! OK Chris, Over to you……..
We have just received a delivery of English Oak from a Timber Merchant in Grimsby, this timber has been selected for the front part of the Ship’s backbone which includes the stem, and forward sections of the keel. We also have around six of the main floors and chocks that will be used for the main frames and a number of futtocks to make up two frames.
Each frame is made up of smaller parts called futtocks and these are attached to the floor timber which spans across the keel, ideally timber is chosen so that the grain runs true to the curved shape of each futtock. Although we have some logs in the yard these are not suitable for the amidships frames as the curvature is too shallow and therefore not suitable, but hopefully they will be used for the forward frames which don’t require as much curvature.
One of the benefits of buying in timber from a timber merchant is that it has already been selected for us using patterns taken from the loft floor and milled to the correct sided dimension, ready for us to cut out the correct shape.
We are now in the process of raising the first frame, which although wouldn’t usually happen at this stage of the build, we wanted to see how we would go about cutting each piece and work out a system to put them together and lift one in place. It also gives the visitors a visual idea of the size of the ship. This frame will be carefully blocked and shored up and will not be finally fitted until the backbone is finished and suitable datum lines established.
We have cut each futtock using a chainsaw with a modified bar with rollers that allows us to scroll round each curved line, this has proven very successful and could possibly be the way we cut all the frame sections.
Our other option is to use the very old tilting bed bandsaw that we have in the yard, but this requires a significant amount of work to be done to get it in an operational condition which we are trying to raise funds for. Content: James Kelly. Photography: James Kelly (truck courtesy of HMP). Content: James Kelly/Chris Conway.
If you follow this blog, you’ll know that every so often, while still keeping to the theme of the Mayflower, I may veer off slightly from the build. This is one of those posts. A little while back, I received a message from someone across the pond asking if they could see some pictures of Harwich, seeing as it was the home port of the Mayflower. As this blog is read by people from all over the world and most of you will never have been to Harwich and have no idea of the town where the Mayflower originated, (you really should pay us a visit, maybe we’ll see you in 2020?) I’ve decided to put up a small selection of some photos that I took on a stroll around the town one day last summer.
The pictures include Christopher Jones’ house and across the road from it, the Alma Pub (which over 400 years ago was home to Sara Twitt, who married Christopher Jones when she was 17 and he was about 23). St Nicholas Church, where Sara and Christopher Jones were married in 1593. The beach front. Views across the Stour estuary. The main road. The Halfpenny Pier. Morris dancers outside The Alma. The best burger van ever! (You’ll never get a better egg and bacon baguette anywhere)
Harwich has a long and varied history and these pictures don’t cover too much of that, but hopefully it’ll give you a small taste. If you’d like any further information on my pictures or want to see more of my work, please leave a comment and I’ll get back to you. The resolution of these pictures has been reduced for quicker loading. As usual, all photos are taken by me and must not be copied in any form, electronic or otherwise, without my consent. Photography and Content: James Kelly.