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Saturday, 10 November, 2001, 14:53 GMT
Pilgrim Fathers' ship to sail again
Pilgrim Fathers
The Pilgrim Fathers sailed from Plymouth to America
A new 1.5m project to build a full sized replica of the Mayflower ship has been unveiled.

In 1620, the Pilgrim Fathers left England in the Mayflower and crossed the Atlantic to reach the shores of the New World.

Plans are under way to build a replica of the famous three-masted vessel and base it in Plymouth - the port where the ship began her journey almost 400 years ago.

The two men behind the scheme hope she will draw tourists to the city while she is being built and prove a popular attraction once completed.

We hope the ship will help to bring the history to life

Mike Leece
She will be totally seaworthy so she can take people sailing off Plymouth - and maybe even make a trip across the Atlantic.

Although a site for the new Mayflower has not been finalised, it is hoped she could be based in Plymouth's Sutton Harbour.

The project is the brainchild of Mike Leece, chief executive of the National Marine Aquarium in Plymouth, and local property developer Chris Parsonage.

Financial backing

Mr Leece said although others have suggested the idea before, what makes the project likely to succeed is the financial backing of 1.5m pledged by Mr Parsonage, who also brought the World Powerboat Championships to Plymouth.

He said: "Neither of us would be taking this on if we thought we couldn't deliver it.

"We hope the ship, along with the new Mayflower Visitor Centre which is also being opened, will help to bring the history to life.

"The Mayflower is a very fundamental link between the UK and America and has a lot of symbolism attached to it.

"It would draw people in and enrich their whole experience of the Barbican area of Plymouth."

Charitable trust

Mr Leece and Mr Parsonage will now draw up detailed plans for the Mayflower replica.

They are also setting up a charitable trust to run the project and will be looking at any additional funds that could be available to them.

Work on the ship could begin during the latter half of next year and is expected to take around two years to build.

In building the new vessel, the team plans to consult with the architects of the Mayflower II, a replica that was built in Brixham and is now off Plymouth in Massachusetts.

Click here to go to BBC Devon Online
See also:

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Nelson's letters for sale
12 Sep 98 | UK
Sailing ship returns home
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