I would like to thank the several hundred followers of this blog and the near 1000 visitors we had over the last week for your continued support and help with news and information regarding the lack of build and non information coming from the Project. Once again I am especially indebted to my American followers for your kind words, emails and information.
The latest rumours and gossip surrounding the non existent build are that with time running out, the Project may be considering several other options in an effort to pull this dead duck from the water. Firstly, either a fixed berth version of the Mayflower, which would be forever moored in Harwich and cost a lot less than a sea going version. The other option to be rumoured is not building the Mayflower in Harwich, but instead assembling it from parts made outside of the town. ‘Assembled in Harwich” doesn’t have quite the same ring as “Built” does it?
While I still await with baited breath for the alleged summer start of the build, I have again decided to post a few more comments from readers of the blog
As the Harwich Mayflower Project continues to ignore the public’s insistence on knowing exactly what is happening to the build and what its plans are while it continues to solicit donations for a build that has not progressed in two years, I’m taking this opportunity to post a few comments received by this blog that highlight the total disrespect the project has for its patrons as well as the people of Harwich.
An Ex Employee: (in response to another comment asking why people have not left the Project)
People have stepped away from the Project over the last 3 years. It just gets pushed under the carpet why they left.
EDITOR: this has been my experience as well. The official project line would seem to be “We didn’t want him/her/them here, they were useless, so we got rid of them” when in fact one would assume these people decided to leave.
Patricia Claus: (USA donator)
Thank you so much, Mr Kelly, for making sure the rest of the world hears about this “project”. If it weren’t for you I would not know anything currently about this organization which I donated money to a few years ago.
They have been so completely opaque, deliberately opaque, in all their dealings that I am sure many of us saw this coming in some form or another. Thanks again for letting us know what is really happening in Harwich.
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. “
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.
Yes I know it’s a tiny bit late and we’re well into 2016, but I’ve been waiting to see if any build news came out of the project before updating. Unfortunately, it’s been over a year since the last work was done on the build and (as far as I’m aware from looking at the build) there has been no addition. If this is an error, I’m quite happy to correct it if contacted by a Project spokesperson. But as with my last post, I’m unable to give any build updates.
The only updates I have, which are also in the public domain are that during 2015, the project lost its one and only shipwright (as previously mentioned) and gained a CEO, although he too seems to have parted company with the project after only a few months at the helm.
The Project continues to ask for donations, specifically mentioning the build, yet (due to a continued lack of information), nothing seems to be happening in that area .
The latest figures for the Project show that their yearly income for the year ending in March 2015 was just under half a million pounds, or for those across the pond, approximately three quarters of a million dollars. (source: http://www.charitychoice.co.uk/harwich-mayflower-project-23553). If a portion of that figure was donations, would it be too much to ask how those donations were spent?
Most charities, have a newsletter that explains what they’re doing and where the funds are going. For example “Thank you for all your donations in the last year, with your help we have raised x amount and been able to do X Y and Z”. If anyone has a newsletter/s from the Project that they can forward to me I’d be happy to receive a copy and to post the information here.
A online news site recently ran a piece on the Project and quoted the following:
“The project originally aimed to raise £4m and while unable to say how much has been raised, the trust has been able to start the build from donations received so far”
“Unable to say how much has been raised”???
Surely any charitable trust would have at least one accountant keeping records and as finances can be publicly accessed (see above), why and more importantly how, is the project not aware of how much has been raised. I’m not too sure I’d want to donate my hard earned cash to a charity if they can’t even keep track of it!
Towards the end of 2015 in October there was a piece in the local newspaper that mentioned a part of this blog. (Source: http://www.harwichandmanningtreestandard.co.uk/news/13924907._Will_Mayflower_ship_be_ready_for_pilgrim_crossing_anniversary__/)
“It’s been almost a year since the last update to the build and since then absolutely nothing has happened.
“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.”
The project replied as follows:
But a spokesman for the project dismissed the claims and said the build was not intended to start until January 2016, so has in fact started early.
“Over the past three years the project has concentrated on the training centre.
“It’s about building the ship but it’s about what the ship will give to the area afterwards.”
The Mayflower Project has today launched a new friends scheme
For £30, or £15 concessions, members of the public can get updates, a certificate and be entered into a spring prize draw to win a case of Mayflower wine.
As far as I can see, this raises a few questions. Firstly, why start a build ‘early’ just to stop work on it for over a year. Next, as we enter March two months after the official build start date, how is that build progressing. Also why waste time and (I’m assuming) donations on starting a build before your admitted ‘start’ date of Jan 2016, just to see the wood laying in the yard? If the build did not start in January 2016 (as the Project said it would) what is the reason for that? As it is now five months since that newspaper piece, I’m assuming there’s been several ‘updates’. Could someone please forward me the ‘updates’ mentioned by the spokesperson so I can pass some information on via this blog.
By its very nature any charity project should be transparent and open. If a charity receives hard earned money from members of the public, surely that charity should at the very least let the public know what is being done with that money? Is it too much to ask that the Harwich Mayflower Project which actively asks for donations for a ship build, keeps the public informed as to how that build is progressing and if it’s not progressing or it’s been held up then surely they should let people know? But then again, maybe they have and I’ve just not seen or heard it.
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
It’s been a bit of a busy summer for me, work has been hectic and I’ve just completed a bicycle ride along the Wild Atlantic Way in Ireland. For those of you that follow my cycling blog, you’ll already know about my adventures as I cycled from Galway to Dingle (including the hell that was ‘Corkscrew Hill’). So as it’s been a while since I ventured into the Railway yard that holds the Mayflower Project, today I paid them a visit.
I wanted to get some updates on how they were getting on and hopefully get you some pictures of the progress of the build. Unfortunately as the summer draws to a close, I’m unable to report any further progress on the build. Being independent of the project, I’m not privy to the stages of the build or any information as to a timeline. But what I do know is that everybody there is as positive and upbeat about the project as they were when I first arrived. I can’t say when I’ll have new pictures of the build, but you can rest assured that as soon as something stirs in the Old Railway Yard in Harwich, I’ll be there like a shot with my camera!
So in the meantime and to let you know that the project and this blog are still alive, I’ve decided to take a few pictures of the ‘Mayflower Murals’ that have recently been completed and surround the building. The murals were painted by a mix of volunteers, school students on work experience placements and learners on vocational skills courses (These local residents achieved units of qualifications in Art and Design)
Please note the photos have been reduced in size and clarity for uploading and any picture can be clicked on for a bigger image. Also, is is just me or does the mural of John Howland look like the actor Jake Gyllenhaal? Photography and content: James Kelly.
In April of this year, I walked past a Railway yard and spotted dozens and dozens of logs, there must have been hundreds of tons of wood. From the outside of the Railway yard there was no indication of what the place was, even the name was a bit ambiguous. Living in a town where everything from the local chip shop to the local school and taxi firm has a “Mayflower” in its name, the “Mayflower Project” could have been anything. Being the inquisitive type, I went home and Googled it. Turns out they were building the Mayflower! I went to the website to see how much they had built and if I could get in to see it. Back then the website had no information on the build. I had no idea if it was built, or being built, or if I could even see it and it was sadly lacking in photos or any kind of live video link.
The next day I ventured back there and met a guy called Sean Day. I mentioned being interested in the build and also that I’d like to take photos and start a blog to document the build, hopefully helping people see just how the build was progressing. Strangely enough, he agreed. In the time since then, my little project has turned into a blog that has received over 14,000 visits in the last eight months.
After helping with a few tours, my Mayflower knowledge was soon expanded when I was given a wonderful gift of “Mayflower: The voyage that changed the world”, a book that I read in one sitting and have read a few times since. It is thanks to this book (and the wonderful friend that gave it to me) that I can now spout facts and figures about the Mayflower voyage as well as several of the main characters involved.
This brings us to December and the current build. You’ll see from the blog that the build has gone from tons of English oak in the yard, to what is rapidly becoming recognisable as a ship. I did think that Frame 20 may have been up before Christmas (and it may still be), but after a visit today, I was told it was unsafe to lift the frame due to the high winds. If this is not done within the next week, I’m assuming it’ll be lifted into place in early Jan and I’ll hopefully be there to get pics for you
As this is likely to be my last post before the end of the year, I’d like to take a little bit of your time to mention a few people: Sean Day, for getting over his initial worries that I was a “nut with a camera” and allowing me access to the Project. Chris, Tony, Brett, Tasha and Dave for being ever patient with me, answering all my questions and allowing me to poke my camera in their faces while they try to build the Mayflower. Mick, the yard manager, whose constant cry of “Oi, where the bloody hell do you think you’re going” seems to follow me around. Yasmine and Toni, the admin ladies that are always ready with a smile and an answer to all my questions. Steph, who has more artistic talent in her little finger than I have in the whole of my body. Paul, gotta love that goatee. Tom Daly, the Project chairman. A man whose quiet demeanour and lilting Irish brogue belies a passion and fervour for the Project that will see it completed, no matter what stands in his way.
Finally, a huge thank you to my friend across the pond for sending me that book. A wonderful surprise gift that ignited my passion for the Mayflower and one of the reasons I’m so interested in seeing this project all the way through to the end.
Well that’s it really, it just remains for me to say thank you to you dear reader. You’re why I write this blog and why I continue to annoy the shipwrights at the Mayflower Project. Thanks for being here over the last few months, I hope to see you again in the New Year as the Mayflower continues to grow and I continue to update you on the build. Have a wonderful Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.