The Harwich Mayflower and Heritage Project ( a new name) has recently released a Position Statement. I have taken the main points from it and posted them here. By the way, I did mention in a post a while back that they would probably be changing their name to something like “The Harwich Heritage Project” as they centered on Harwich history and not a ship build. I guess someone at the Project reads the blog. 🙂
Anyway, before highlighting the main points of the “Statement”. Let’s start with this little nugget which caught my eye:
The Trustees are aware that there are individuals who, for whatever reason, wish to undermine our Volunteers and the Charities work. This is expressed in letters to the press and in the content of the “Ships Blog”.
In the words of the immortal bard “methinks you doth protest too much”.
Looking for answers to questions (and not getting any) is not undermining anything. Local residents writing to newspapers and putting their point across is not a crime, nor is there anything wrong with it. Correcting misinformation supplied by The Project will not affect volunteers. In fact, Just because several local Harwich residents have the guts to actually make a stand and ask questions when something seems amiss, it does not mean that there is some kind of vendetta to undermine the Project. What it means is that there are people who may see something that seems not right and are willing to stand up and voice their opinion, even when shouted down. It is inherently wrong for a registered charity to denigrate the very people that they are looking to for support, the Harwich local community. Instead of being negative towards these local people, the Project should be welcoming them in and addressing their concerns and issues. They should be trying to show them that their perceptions are wrong and backing that up with concrete reasoning and facts and figures.
The very fact that the residents of Harwich are writing letters, trying to get answers, and submitting comments to this blog, would probably start alarm bells ringing for anyone wishing to undertake dealings with the Harwich Mayflower Heritage Project.
While the Project continues to be opaque, offers misinformation and refuses to answer the most basic of queries, there will always be members of the public wondering why that is so, whether it be in newspaper print, social media or via this blog. I can’t speak for the residents of Harwich, so I’ll speak for myself: As long as my backside faces the ground, I’ll keep exposing the misinformation and fake news that the Harwich Mayflower Heritage Project is so keen to promote.
The Trustees will respond respectfully to genuine complaints and criticism.
In other words “If you ask us something that we don’t want you to know, we wont tell you”
“Genuine complaints”? Please note, counterfeit complaints will not be entertained in any way shape or form!
Well then, here’s a genuine complaint and criticism for the Project. Why do you continually refuse to inform the local Harwich people (and others) as to what you have done with their generous donations? The donations have not gone on a ship build so where have they gone?
And another genuine (not made up) criticism. Why can you not make a plan and stick to it, why do you have to make things up as you go along and continually mislead the public that have so generously kept you afloat (pun intended) for so long? The ship was going to take 36months to build (source: local press), then it was going to take 2 years and then it was going to take 2 years but not including “port visits” that no one had previously bothered to mention. Your last cost estimate for a build a few months ago was 4 million, now all of a sudden it’s 10 million. What has changed in a few months that has cost an extra 6 million?
If it was “Always your intention to build a land based ship” can you please tell me where this was promoted and mentioned before now as I have scoured local press and online and can find no mention of it before this document.
I await your respectful response.
Here are the highlights of the Project Statement.
In recognition of his unstinting commitment and generosity to the project Tom Daly has been invited to become President of the Charity. The Trustees are delighted to welcome Tom into this role.
HURRAH!! I recently made a post thanking Tom Daly for all his hard work with the Project. I also said a few posts back that Tom Daly was a guiding light for the project and that Sean Day was not a suitable frontman. I asked for Mr Daly to be brought back. It would seem that someone at the Project reads the blog.
We recognise that construction of an ocean going vessel is a significant undertaking and requires an investment of some £10m at today’s prices.
As I stated above, why the sudden increase to 10 million? Is it because I mentioned in a post a while back that the people at Mystic Seaport estimated a new Mayflower build would cost approx 10 million pounds and not the 4 million the HMP stated? It would seem that someone at the Project reads the blog.
It was always the intention that once the seagoing vessel was built another would be constructed which would remain in Harwich. The Trustees have brought forward this commitment.
As I said, where was this intention made public? I mean, you haven’t just made it up on the spur of the moment to cover the fact that you wont be building a seagoing ship anytime soon… Have you? I did mention in a post a while back that I assumed the ship would probably end up being built in kit form or be a static build. It would seem that someone at the Project reads the blog.
The Station buildings are to be adapted to house two significant historic collections.
The Bob Clow collection of Rail Memorabilia.
The Hazelton Collection.
One would assume that these items are on loan and that Mr Clow and Mr Hazelton have obtained a signed contract from the Project stating that their items are on loan for a certain amount of time and that they remain their property. Also, regarding Mr Clow’s collection, an interesting point is that it was originally discussed way back in 2001 that Mr Clow was going to open a rail museum. Click for original story in the Essex County Standard
The Trustees are committed to listening to the local community, the regular community meetings will continue and steering groups will be established to support initiatives across the organization. Times for this will be varied to allow access by as many people as possible.
Listening is one thing, acting on what you hear is another thing entirely. The last meeting was so poorly advertised that I’d be surprised if even the project staff knew when it was! I have always said in this blog that the Project needs to be more transparent in its dealings, and pay attention to the local community. It would seem that someone at the Project reads the blog. (Again!) Look guys, let’s cut out the middle man, why don’t you just ask me what direction you need to take, because it seems I can see into the future!
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.
The Harwich Mayflower Project has announced an Open Session to allow “people with concerns about the Project to question a Trustee” (taken from Harwich and Manningtree Standard Fri 12th May). If you are local and have any concerns, please attend.
The time and date of the session is Thursday May 18th at 9.30am. A time when most people who have any concerns may be at work. But, the Project has of course set up a special email address where anyone with a concern can send in their questions… Oh wait, they haven’t.
So, please be prepared for the Project’s announcement of “We asked for people with concerns to turn up and only 2 arrived”. Why was this not set for a time in the evening when the people of Harwich could actually be there. Surely one of the Trustees, who are mostly retired individuals, can spare a few hours in the evening to meet members of the public? The same public that they are taking donations from. As I’ve said before, it’s not rocket science is it?
I for one can’t be there, but if anyone who is reading this can be there, could you please ask a question for me? “Dear Trustee, as there has been no ship build since 2014 and you have been, and are still taking donations from the public for a “Build” which is non-existent at the moment, can you please state (with records to back it up) what these donations from the public have been used for?”
Now that this question is in the public domain, the Project will no doubt have their usual “politician style” prepared answer ready.
There are of course lots of unanswered questions concerning this “Charity”, but they’re best left for members of the public to ask on Thursday.
I was going to put a few comments here, because although they are placed on the side bar over there, a lot of people still miss them. I’d advise you to have a look to gauge the general feeling of people, both here and in the US. But, I received a comment a few hours back that I think is straightforward, pithy, and so very well written with lovely snatches of humour that it deserves a platform all of its own.
Crimsonseas, I salute you.
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 as 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.
If anyone from HMP is reading this, perhaps it’s time you stop sniffing wood glue, you’re clearly more high than your neighbours in bathside.
EDITORIAL COMMENT: This blog does not condone the sniffing of wood glue, or any other substances used to fix wood together. We might like a drink now and again on a Friday night, and maybe a bag of pork scratchings, but that’s where we draw the line… OK there was that one time when someone said I could get a buzz from licking a frog, but I’m not counting that.
“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 first post of the New Year and hopefully a year which will see the Harwich Mayflower Project start the ship build.
I received an email from a Harwich resident over the Christmas period which advised me that I should have mentioned the ‘positives’ of the Harwich Mayflower Project in the last year while making my End of Year Post. Specifically the fact that the Project won tens of thousands of pounds in funding from the local council to build their new visitor centre.
I am of course happy to put the record straight and would like to use this post to congratulate the Harwich Mayflower project on securing the funds from the local council, which I’m sure were hotly contested with other well deserving charities in the area.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate the latest December appointments to the Mayflower Project board of directors. Mr. Fred Nicholls, who was previously chairman of the local council and Mr Robert Day, who was also a member of the local council.
I hope these new additions to the board of directors will help steer the project to much prosperity and the multiple millions of funding that one would assume is needed to progress the build.
Finally, a belated Happy New Year to all my readers. Once again thank you for all your kind words and supportive mail over 2016. It’s much appreciated.
Before I round up this year, I’d like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for making this blog as popular as it is and for your continuing comments and emails. It is especially encouraging to get so much feedback from those of you across the pond.
As 2016 comes to an end, I’m going to do my usual end of year update and sadly report that as usual, nothing appears to be happening at the Mayflower Project. The part build which has stalled since 2014 still lies rotting in the Railway yard.
I had hoped that after their last message to this blog, someone from the Project would contact me to inform me and the readers just why there has been no progress in the build since 2014 and what the future holds. But as in the past, the project seemingly refuses to release any information at all, keeping their donators and the people of Harwich firmly in the dark.
Talking of their last message. I believe a Mr Sean day accused me of writing “ill informed garbage”. I’d just like to post a little comment here and leave you to make up your own mind about who’s talking garbage. On may 16th 2016 the Project gave an interview to British Heritage with the following statements in print:
“…go to The Railyard on George Street where you can watch the shipbuilding in action.”
“Shipbuilding began earlier this year”
Ms Lynda Chase-Gardener, a director of the Project, previously stated in the local press that the build would start in January 2016 after work ceased in 2014. Since work on the build stopped in 2014, and indeed right up to today, no work has been undertaken on the build. So why would the project say in print in May 2016 that work had started “earlier in the year” when they were fully aware it hadn’t? Why would they say “watch the shipbuild” when they were aware there was no build? I’ll leave you to make up your own mind on that. Also with a reported start to the build in Jan 2016, and nothing being built, it appears they are now a year behind their planned schedule.
The piece also said “Sea trials are planned for 2018” With no build in progress as we head into 2017 and the Project reporting they have been told it is a 2 year build, even my very basic maths can see a little issue there. Best put those plans on hold guys!
There was also a nice picture of a scale model which the Project has built. A model which may have a disliking for water. It’s been alleged that pieces of it began to fall of when it was recently displayed at a Harwich festival when it rained. Let’s think on that shall we? Ships… Water…
2016 also saw the closure of the training centre. Although touted as a “temporary” closure, there is still no news on when it is expected to re-open.
But as one door closes another opens and the Project unveiled a new visitor centre which was built using local government funding and as far as I know, no donations. So, no training centre and no ship build, but a new visitor centre. It’s not all bad!
Away from the ship build, papers were filed on 11th of November 2016 for “Termination of appointment of director”. Of course I have no idea who is leaving or why, but I feel it only fair to pass on the information. With several directors on the board, it is of course normal for them to come and go, so nothing should be inferred from this information.
As time goes on and we get closer and closer to 2020, it becomes a little worrying that the Project will be able to fulfil their promise of an ocean going replica, without a huge financial injection and a large labour force. As the year comes to a close, let’s hope they can get both.. and pretty quickly!