Plymouth outlines Mayflower 400 investment

Exciting plans to get Plymouth shipshape and ready for the global stage as part of the Mayflower 400 commemorations are being unveiled.

Historic trails will be developed so that visitors can follow in the footsteps of the Pilgrim Fathers. Some projects in the pipeline include the renovation of two Elizabethan houses in the Barbican and a new Mayflower monument.

Cabinet will meet on February 7 to consider setting aside £5 million of the Council’s capital programme to help fund the projects that will showcase the city and celebrate its rich historic links to the voyage of the Mayflower in 1620 and the resulting special relationship we have with the United States today.

They are also being asked for approval for Plymouth to lead on the National Trail Programme HLF bid on behalf of the 10 Mayflower Compact national destinations.

Council leader Ian Bowyer said: “Mayflower 400 is an extraordinary opportunity for the city, the country and members of the Compact to commemorate a voyage that literally changed the world.

“We are already planning a major events programme but want to make sure Plymouth is looking its best in plenty of time, which is why we are committing to these projects.

With thousands of visitors heading to our city, we need to be able to invest in projects that will help create a great experience for visitors as well as residents. Getting this right could bring in over £250 million into the local economy.”

Plymouth’s Mayflower leadership group and the International Mayflower Compact are chaired by Adrian Vinken OBE. He said: “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity for Plymouth. 2020 will provide a global platform to showcase the city’s world-class maritime history, its current cultural vitality and innovative forward-looking businesses.

Our English, Dutch and American partners are fully committed to making this a major international celebration. None of this would have been possible without the support of Plymouth City Council and we are delighted that it is determined to make sure that the city looks its very best by the time we get to 2020.”

Plymouth has been chosen to lead on the National Trail Programme Heritage Lottery Fund bid which covers 10 destinations in England who will research and celebrate their part in this international story.

The programme is intended to bind the chapters of this story together and showcase each destination to local regional and international audiences. Feasibility studies have already been carried out to identify the scope of works needed.

In Plymouth, three trials are being put forward – a Mayflower trail based in the historic Barbican area which will take the visitor on a journey back to the 16th and 17th centuries.

Another trail will helping visitors to navigate between The Barbican and the city’s new History Centre, while a third will trace the journey along the Hoe, looking out towards Plymouth Sound.

Alongside the trails, £1 million will be invested in sensitive improvement works to key public spaces in and around the Barbican to make the locations more welcoming to people from around the globe.

They include improvements to:

  • the Mayflower Steps and Mayflower Centre
  • Sir John Hawkins Square behind the law courts between the Merchants House and Prysten House to be revitalised
  • Prysten House – to encourage more people to visit this historic Elizabethan building with some unique American credentials
  • the entrance to Southside Street, the gateway to the Barbican.

As part of a £1.3 million investment package, the city’s two Grade II* Elizabethan buildings will be renovated. Given their age – older than the US – both face issues which need to be resolved to prevent further decline. The programme proposes renovating Elizabethan House and turning it into a living history museum. The Merchants House will have a sensitive restoration.

Chief Executive of Mayflower 400 Charles Hackett said: “We have a wealth of exciting ideas that are currently being worked up to involve and engage Plymouth communities and to showcase to the world the great things that Plymouth has across education, culture heritage, marine technology and tourism. The development of the historic trails and the Mayflower monument are a key in the preparations – the year 2020 may seem like a long way off, but this work takes an incredible amount of planning. We are definitely under the starter’s gun.”

This latest investment commitment is in addition to a raft of other major projects including hotel development, a cruise terminal, railway station and History Centre projects which are all being developed in time for the landmark year.