2020 marks the 400 anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower from the UK to America. To mark this extraordinary historical event the people of Dartmouth have been busy planning a number of commemorative events and projects. One such project is the creation of the Dartmouth Mayflower Heritage Trail. The trail will paint a picture of Dartmouth in the 17th century, as it was when the Mayflower and the Speedwell sailed into the river for repairs to be carried out on the Speedwell in 1620.
In preparation of the trail launch Lindsay Ellwood, Heritage Trail Lead and Education Lead, told us everything we need to know about the trail.
How did the idea come about for the trail?
All the 13 Mayflower towns will be creating Mayflower Trails that will tell their unique part of the Mayflower Story. Dartmouth is a founding partner in the International Mayflower Compact Partnership.
When did you start? How long has it taken to plan?
I became involved in the trail in 2016. The town section will be opened in mid November 2019, in readiness for the beginning of the commemoration year at the end of November 2019.
How long is the trail going to be?
The route of the town section of the trail will weave around Dartmouth, and will be 1.2km long; the level is easy and on the flat. Visitors should allow enough time to look inside St. Saviour’s Church and visit Dartmouth Museum, both of which are well worth a visit and are on the trail route. We are working on two other sections of the trail that will link with the Town Trail, these will be opened in 2020.
What can people see on the trail?
The aim of the trail is to focus on Dartmouth in the 17th century, as it would have been when the Mayflower and the Speedwell were moored in the river. We are fortunate to have a number of buildings that date from that period and earlier, so it will not be difficult for visitors to imagine life in Dartmouth at that time. It was a thriving affluent port with successful trading routes and shipbuilding yards. Several of the buildings along the route were merchant’s houses dating from this period. Bayards Cove will be a prominent feature of the trail, as this is the old harbour area, and by tradition, is where the Mayflower and the Speedwell lay at anchor for ten days. Dartmouth has such a long, rich history, that other town events and periods in history will be referred to along the route.
Where can people find out more about the trail or access a trail map?
There is an App available to download here: https://www.mayflower400uk.org/visit/app/
Leaflets and a quiz for children will be available from Dartmouth Visitor Centre and there will be way markers and interpretation panels along the route. Tour guides will be available for organised tours of the town and trail from the Visitor Centre.
Who is the trail aimed at?
We are expecting visitors of all kinds from far and wide in 2020. However, this trail will be a permanent installation in the town and we hope that it will attract visitors and be of interest to local people for many years to come.
How long will people be able to do the trail?
The trail will be a permanent feature for the town.
How did you get involved in the project?
I have been involved with Dartmouth Mayflower 400 for several years as Education Lead and also more recently, Heritage Trail Lead.
Have you ever done something like this before?
I am fascinated by the history of the town, but this is the first time that I have been able to use my enthusiasm to help create a trail that will highlight Dartmouth’s rich history and benefit the town.
Who else is involved?
We have a fantastic team of volunteers who are working hard to create the trail content, and we are working with Tom Leaper, a South West artist, who has created some wonderful bronze way markers to indicate the route. We are very fortunate to have the support of Dartmouth Town Council for this project. Dartmouth History Research Group, Dartmouth Museum, Dartmouth Visitor Centre and South Hams District Council are also involved.
What does being involved in Mayflower mean to you?
I am delighted to be part of a team that will deliver this project, particularly as it will be a permanent, informative feature in the town.
Where can people find out more about the Mayflower story?
For more details about the Mayflower Story, and all of our projects and events see: https://www.dartmouthmayflower400.uk