New home for Mayflower model

Dave Scoble helping to de-rig the Mayflower modelA model of the Mayflower built by Devonport Dockyard apprentices in 1969-70 will take centre stage at the newly revamped Mayflower Museum on Plymouth’s Barbican.

The model, which has been on display in the Council House for the last 45 years, was originally built to commemorate the 350th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower and was presented to the Lord Mayor in 1970.

Its new home on the first floor of the Mayflower Museum means it will take pride of place, overlooking the Mayflower Steps, when the museum is re-opened next month – and during the city’s Mayflower 2020 celebrations.

Royal Naval personnel helping to de-rig the Mayflower modelA team of second year apprentices took nine months to build the model, under the guidance of their training staff, starting in July 1969. They also built the plinth on which the model rests, along with a decorative railing and carved wooden plaque bearing the City of Plymouth crest. It was repainted by a DML apprentice in 1989.

The complete model weighs three hundredweight (24 stones) and all its running rigging (the rudder and other working parts) can be operated. It includes: 

  • four decks, laid as true decks, in yellow pine
  • 332 blocks made by hand from English elm
  • four masts, a bowsprit and six yards made from Columbian pine
  • 10 lathe-turned cannons fitted on period carriages
  • six handmade sails, totalling 64 square feet in area
  • rigging made from 360 fathoms of sewing twine

Royal Navy personnel moving the model to the truckThe model has been carefully de-rigged and transferred to the museum by lorry and crane, with the help of Royal Navy personnel working on behalf of the Devonport Naval Heritage Centre (DNHC) and professional ship model maker Dave Scoble, who will help to re-assemble the model in its new home. They were overseen by Leading Seaman Holly Somers from the DNHC and staff from the Council’s arts and heritage service.

Deputy Council Leader Peter Smith said: “The Mayflower Museum will be a very fitting home for this beautiful piece of craftsmanship, especially in the run-up to the 400th anniversary celebrations. There’s no better place to showcase this intricately detailed replica model than overlooking the steps from which the original ship set sail.”

Warrant Officer Ray Crockett, Naval Base Liaison Officer, said: “We are really pleased to be helping with the Mayflower model’s move, particularly as it was built by apprentices from the dockyard. The Devonport Naval Heritage Centre and Naval Base are working closely with the Council on a number of projects as we move towards 2020, including the forthcoming History Centre and Mayflower 400. We are passionate about supporting the city in these ventures and helping to present the city in the most positive way we can and both nationally and internationally.”

Visitors will be able to view the model when the Mayflower Museum, based on the upper floor of Plymouth’s Tourist Information Centre, re-opens next month. Its refurbishment of the Mayflower Museum has been made possible by a £35,000 grant from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport.

Designed to ‘start visitors on a journey of discovery’, the revamp aims to create a more exciting and engaging visitor experience and better celebrate the story of Plymouth’s role in the Pilgrims’ epic journey to the New World.

It will also give visitors the chance to learn more about this important moment in Plymouth’s shared history with America in the run-up to and during the Mayflower 400 anniversary celebrations in 2020.

Further details about the re-opening will be announced soon.