Opportunity for Mayflower 400 has not yet sailed – and now is the time to get on board
Opportunities for Historic Harwich linked to the Mayflower 400 celebrations have not been dented by Coronavirus (Covid-19).
This year is the 400th anniversary of The Mayflower’s historic trans-Atlantic voyage, taking the Pilgrims to America and founding the first permanent settlement.
Harwich, the home of the ship and its master Captain Christopher Jones, is part of an international compact of destinations leading on commemorations of the anniversary.
Among attractions in Harwich are the house of Christopher Jones, which is being opened up by Tendring District Council (TDC), a Visitor Centre at Esplanade Hall, and a Mayflower Trail around the town.
While the Mayflower 400 project had been hooked upon the anniversary of the voyage, it has always been a legacy initiative – aimed at improving the destination and attracting visitors for years to come – with initiatives such as a grant scheme for local businesses supporting this.
With early events in the Mayflower 400 year disrupted by the Coronavirus, there had been concern that Harwich, and the other destinations, would miss the boat.
But feedback from tour operators has shown that cancelled trips are being rescheduled for next year – while 2021 also marks 400 years since the first Thanksgiving, which can give a renewed focus to the Mayflower 400 compact.
Charles Hackett, CEO of Mayflower 400, said: “It is hugely disappointing that we are going to have to make changes to the programme that people have worked so hard on and that so many have engaged with and supported – but the opportunities arising from Mayflower 400 remain as strong as ever.”
Neil Stock OBE, TDC Leader, urged people to stay positive and to make use of the extra time to prepare to welcome visitors.
“A whole lot of work has been done by an awful lot of people to make Historic Harwich a top-notch destination and to make the most of the opportunity afforded by Mayflower 400,” Cllr Stock said.
“We know residents and businesses in the area may be concerned about the impact of Coronavirus on this, but the opportunity has not sailed.
“Christopher Jones’ House is pretty much ready to open once lockdown ends, the Visitor Centre will not be far behind – and now is your chance to get on board and make sure you are ready.”
Last month TDC launched the Harwich and Dovercourt Bay Business Grants Scheme, and eligible traders are being encouraged to use the enforced lockdown period to send in their application form and draw up their plans.
Independent businesses in Dovercourt and Historic Harwich, can apply for a match-funded grant towards improvement works on their premises, with grants ranging from as little as £200 up to a maximum of £2,000. The work must be agreed with TDC before it commences, and the grant is paid once the works are completed.
Cllr Mary Newton, TDC Cabinet Member for Business and Economic Growth, added: “Although council representatives visited all the businesses in both towns in early March, before the lockdown, we appreciate this grant scheme may have been put on the back burner while immediate matters of enforced closure and social distancing took precedence.
“We would like to remind businesses in Harwich and Dovercourt about the scheme, which is perhaps more important than ever now as we begin to consider how our recovery from this pandemic may look. Although we know many businesses are not currently able to trade or open their business at the moment, it could be ideal time to consider how you might be able to make use of these grants and consider an application.”
For full details of the grant scheme visit www.tendringdc.gov.uk/tendring4growth
Keep up to date with all things Mayflower 400 at www.historicharwich.co.uk and for the latest on events in Tendring check out the free Love Tendring app.
For more information on this news release contact Tendring District Council’s Communications Manager Will Lodge on 01255 686338.