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.”

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