Harwich’s Mayflower 400 has been named as one of 2021’s highlights

Harwich Mayflower Trail
Harwich Mayflower Trail


Harwich’s Mayflower 400 has been named as 2021’s highlights by a new campaign to boost tourism on the East coast following Covid-19.

The campaign is being run by England’s Coast, an new tourism initiative which includes Visit England, P&O and tourism groups from around the country.

It has highlighted a number of tourism opportunities this year, including exploring Harwich during the Mayflower 400 celebrations, which were postponed from last year due to the pandemic.

The campaign said: “2021 marks the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims setting sail from Plymouth to cross the Atlantic to reach the New World – America.  The port of Harwich played a key role in the story, It’s where the Mayflower was built by the Pilgrim Fathers, and where its captain, Christopher Jones, lived and was twice wed”.

“Visitors can explore the Harwich Mayflower Heritage Centre and its workshop, where a full-scale shore-based replica of the famous ship is being built”.

“It’s a town full of maritime history – visitors can also enjoy Harwich’s fascinating Maritime Heritage Trail, starting at the Low Lighthouse Museum on the Quay, taking in the Redoubt Fort, built in 1808 to protect the harbour from a Napoleonic invasion, and ending at the Barge Murals, overlooking the site where iconic Thames Sailing Barges were built until 1930.”

A 1km-long visitor trail exploring Harwich’s links to the Mayflower opened in September to coincide with the 400th anniversary of the vessel’s historic voyage and Christopher Jones’ House has been opened as an attraction, along with a new visitor centre at Esplanade Hall, which is due to open in the spring.

The initiative is also promoting ‘the east coast seafood trail’, offering some of the world’s finest seafood.  It said: “On idyllic Mersea Island, fresh native oysters have been bred since Roman times.  Leigh-on-Sea is full of character and charm, home to the famous cockle sheds as well as plentiful pubs in which to enjoy this local delicacy”.

The campaign has also highlighted Suffolk’s Sutton Hoo, the site of the new Netflix period drama The Dig, where a 7th century Anglo-Saxon king’s ship burial was uncovered in 1939.

Samantha Richardson, director of the National Coastal Tourism Academy, which delivers the Discover England-funded England’s Coast project, said:  “Essex alone offers 350 miles of coastline.  You can head to art galleries at the Naze Tower or Southend-on-Sea, escape the urban hustle at Thorpe Bay, with its water sports to enjoy, and tuck into fantastic seafood on Mersea Island.  If you don’t know the east coast, this is the year to explore and discover.”

England’s Coast said it advises visitors to adhere to the national lockdown and plan their travels after lockdown, when it is safe to do so.

To find out more about what’s on offer along with guides and walking routes, go to www.englandscoast.com/en.

(Information taken from the Clacton Gazette 03/02/2021).


Open Water Swimmers & Cold Water Dippers 

How to enjoy the open water safely:
When you’re ready to try the open water, follow these tips from Nick Fecher, Water Safety Delivery Support at the RNLI: ‘It’s important to remember that things can go wrong in the water at any time of year. Average Irish and UK sea temperatures are just 12°C and rivers are colder – even in the summer. If you’re going in during the colder months or for extended periods, wear a wetsuit of appropriate thickness.

Gareth Morrison, Head of Water Safety at the RNLI, adds: ‘Always swim under close supervision, like a lifeguarded beach between the red and yellow flags – or at least with a group of regular sea swimmers. Tell someone on land where you’re going and what you are doing. Always swim with a tow float, a bright swimming cap, suitable swim wear, your mobile phone in a waterproof pouch, and make sure you acclimatise to cold water slowly as this will reduce the risk of cold water shock. Always swim parallel to the shore and if you feel cold and start to shiver, get out of the water and warm yourself up’.

If you’re at the coast and there’s an emergency, call 999 and ask for the coastguard. If you’re inland, call the relevant emergency service.

RNLI top safety tips:
Never swim alone. The safest way to wild swim is at an Open Water swimming site, with a club or between the red and yellow flags on a lifeguarded beach. If you can’t get to a lifeguarded beach, learn more about your chosen location and check hazard signage by finding an organised swim group in your local community.

Acclimatise to cold water slowly and enter gradually to reduce the risk of cold water shock.

Check weather and tide times before you go, avoid swimming in dangerous conditions.

Take a means for calling for help in a waterproof phone pouch and have this on you at all times.

Wear a brightly coloured hat plus a tow float for increased visibility.

Always swim parallel to the shore and not straight out. Cold water, waves and currents can tire you out quickly and make it harder to return to shore.

Never swim under the influence of alcohol.

Be prepared, Always be seen , Acclimatise slowly , Stay within your depths , Float to live  Call 999 or 112  for the Coastguard in an emergency.

For more water safety information please visit RNLI.Org/Safety.

Clacton Pier set for a cracking Christmas as lockdown set to end

Bosses at the landmark said a programme of work has continued during the second lockdown to ensure that the festive activities will be better than ever – with hundreds of new decorations, a purpose-built Santa’s grotto, and animatronic characters.

A life-size singing reindeer will be part of the attractions, helping to raise extra funds for the NHS.

Pier director Billy Ball said that every effort has been made to create a very special North Pole experience at the landmark.

“This year has been very difficult for so many people and we want families to be able to enjoy some festive fun with us.”

“We have built a completely new area for Santa with his Reindeer stables as well as new characters such as Frosty the Snowman. Our rides will also be open for the first time ever over Christmas, except for the big day itself.”

Mr Ball added that the pier is already raising money for the NHS with a dedicated machine in the amusement arcade.

On top of that customers will have the chance to make a donation when they press the button to activate the singing reindeer.

Mr Ball added that all necessary Covid measures are being taken to create a safe environment, provided the pier gets the green light to re-open on December 2.

Santa’s grotto will then open from December 2 to 24 and there is a special deal at weekends and in the school holiday between December 5 and January 3.

The Mayflower: 400th Anniversary Special

Join TV historian Dan Snow for an online documentary marking exactly 400 years to the day since the Mayflower set sail by watching below.

‘The Mayflower: 400th Anniversary Special’ History Hit Live digital programme reflects the story of the colonists, the impact their arrival had on the Native American people who helped them, and the wider colonial context of this journey.

It also includes a look at some of the cultural projects involved in the commemorative year.

This online documentary is part of a series of key events within the Mayflower 400 event and culture programme that culminates with a Four Nations Commemoration Ceremony involving the USA, Netherlands, UK and Wampanoag nations on July 11 next year.

The anniversary programme will importantly involve representatives from the Wampanoag nation who will tell their side of this story in their own words for the first time having been censored or not included in previous anniversaries.

Clacton anniversary celebrations receive £250k funding

Commemorations are being planned to mark Clacton’s 150th anniversary.

The year 1871 is seen as the founding of modern Clacton when a group of businessmen built the Pier and Royal Hotel to spark the creation of a new holidaymaker resort, with the town officially incorporated in 1872.

Plans to mark the occasion include a heritage trail complete with history boards, listening benches and trail challenges – with the whole Tendring District Council (TDC) project receiving £250,000 of funding from the National Lottery Heritage Fund.

Thanks to money raised by National Lottery players, celebrations will be kick-started with an event in the town in Spring 2021 – and it is hoped as more people look to take staycations next year the district as a whole could have a bumper season.

Neil Stock OBE, TDC Leader, said the celebrations would not only mark Clacton’s history, but also kick-off the summer season and a year of Celebrating Tendring events.

“Given it is now the largest town in Tendring it is easy to forget Clacton is actually the newest,” Councillor Stock said.

“I can’t wait to learn more about its history and to see the work that develops out of this project.

“The birthday celebrations will mark the start of what we all hope will be a fantastic year for Clacton, and Tendring as a whole.

“We are really keen for Clacton businesses to think about how they can mark the occasion, and bring the whole town together to celebrate this landmark.”

The National Lottery Heritage Fund proposal also includes money for two co-ordinator roles to pull together commemorative activity.

As well as looking at the ‘birth’ of Clacton, the project will chart the town’s history through the ages – from its Victorian beginnings, to Butlins and pirate radio, to more modern times.

Through development of the trail it is hoped to get more people walking or cycling, supporting the work of Active Essex and the Essex Local Delivery Pilot Sport England project.

To ensure there is a legacy from the celebrations the project is funded until December 2022, and work will take place to create or support a heritage community group to continue the work going forward.

Schools step on board to learn about Mayflower ship

A theatre company has got 40 primary schools on board with its special project celebrating the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower’s voyage.

The Grand Theatre of Lemmings, based in Manningtree, was awarded a grant from Essex County Council and National Lottery Heritage Fund to tour all of Tendring’s primary schools this year with an immersive theatrical production called Step On Board.

The project was designed to tell the story of Harwich captain Christopher Jones who sailed the Mayflower to America in 1620.

Harwich has strong links to the ship and Jones’ house still stands in the town to this day.

The Grand Theatre of Lemmings is an organisation which works with young people to help them celebrate their heritage.

Before the pandemic the company piloted Step on Board to eight schools, which was enjoyed by Key Stage 2 children.

The children were welcomed aboard a boat structure in the school ground by the actors and activities started with everyone getting dressed up in period costume from 1620. During the course of the morning they tried their hands at writing with quills, making ships biscuits, knot tying and learning how a compass works.

After lunch they all went below deck to hear the story of Christopher Jones.

To round off the day the youngsters learnt how rope is made from plants such as stinging nettles, and the afternoon ended with a live demonstration of making rope.

When Covid-19 put a halt to any chance of the company visiting schools this year, the actors put their heads together and came up with the idea of delivering the same information to the schools using film.

After weeks of work they came up with three films and a living history folder of activities which will be delivered to all the primary schools in the district to coincide with the Mayflower’s anniversary.

Mandy Rose, artistic director of the theatre, said: “It’s been so much fun putting this together for the children of Tendring.

“It’s hard for us to go from receiving audience feedback in the moment to waiting to hear what everyone thought but we’re getting so much positive feedback, it makes it worth the wait.”

To find out more, visit all-on-board.co.uk.

Shop Safe in Tendring this Christmas

Christmas shopping will be somewhat different in Tendring this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Just as businesses were gearing up for their busiest time, a second lockdown was announced at the beginning of November.

As part of Tendring Council’s priority to support local businesses, a Facebook page was set up in October and the campaign ‘Shop Safe in Tendring this Christmas’ was launched.

Two virtual shopping events were set up for November 18 and 21 where local businesses could promote their products and services to potential customers, all from the comfort and safety of their own home.

It is hoped the tough national measures will be lifted at the beginning of December, however the council still wants to provide a safe way for residents to reach out to local businesses.

To do so, an innovative Facebook Live event has been organised for Tuesday, December 1, at 6pm.

Local businesses are encouraged to take part in the event by contacting the council ahead of the event to book their slot.

Residents can join the hour-long event to support their local businesses and do their Christmas window shopping whilst avoiding the crowds.

Mary Newton, cabinet member for business and economic growth, said: “We have seen an increase in people wanting to support their local community and shops, but it has been extremely difficult for people to do that as non-essential shops have been closed.

“We hope this live event will help and would love to see as many people as possible join the event to support their towns.

“The event is not there to replace traditional shopping because we would love to see our high streets thriving again, but it just provides an alternative option at a time when it is crucial we avoid bustling crowds of people – and the event fits into our Back to Business agenda.

“There will be lots of different products on offer on the night and it really is a great opportunity to get wrapped up early for Christmas.”

Steve Tattam, from Winyl’s in Manningtree, added: “We have found the loss of our instore events, wine tasting and live music has been the biggest blow to us and our local customers.

“We are looking forward to taking part in the Facebook Live event because it is a great way for the community to come together to support each other, and to browse through gifts and products you wouldn’t normally find.

“We sell an ever-growing selection of vegan wine, beer, vinyl and associated gifts.”

If you are a business based in Tendring and you would like to take part in the event please contact Candice Robinson at enquire@socialcreatives.co.uk.

To join the event, go to facebook.com/events/297007951487127/ 

Think you know Essex, then think again

Think you know Essex, then think again! Essex is full of surprises and hidden gems, not to mention its diverse people that are always there with a warm and friendly smile to welcome you.

Did you know that Rupert Grint, Dame Helen Mirren, Henri Chopin and Dick Turpin are all from Essex? It is home to a number of celebrity chefs, authors, artists, actors, and sports people. Whilst many of these people are in the public eye we have a whole county of people full of interesting and unique stories, for example, did you know the latest Nobel prize winner was from Colchester, the founder of Harvard university was from Essex and we have scientists that work with NASA? We also have stately homes that have been owned by the same families for generations, with fascinating stories, and local food producers providing food nationally and internationally.

Essex is known for its world- famous Colchester Oysters and Tiptree Jam, Chelmsford is the birthplace of radio, we have Britain’s oldest wooden church and the driest climate, and, you can still see the roman circus remains in Colchester. Many of the rich and famous have chosen Essex as their home, Cressing Temple was owned by the Knights Templar.

Essex is a wonderful place to live, study, work, invest and of course visit. The county includes the UK’s first town and newest city plus a plethora of historic and thriving towns and villages. Essex also boasts excellent universities, cutting-edge industry and stunning scenery all within an hour’s commute to the city of London. We’re proud to be from Essex and we want the rest of the world to know what a wonderful place Essex is too.

Many think of Essex as nightclubs and beauty salons and if that’s what you like we have plenty of them, but, did you know it is also a great place for quiet walks, a boat trip or paddle boarding on the river, seal watching, wine tasting at vineyards, spa breaks, cycling with the family, watching wildlife on island nature reserves or just enjoying a great meal out. It is so close to London but can feel a million miles away. No wonder it has become a popular filming location.

Come and Visit Essex, its extraordinary people and places it might just surprise you.
If you don’t believe us hear it from others.

‘An interesting insight into a county we think we already know from TV shows. A great opportunity to discover nature, different businesses, charming historic towns and villages and some incredible food, particularly at Mersea. Nice to see a different side to Essex!’
Laura Millar, Travel Editor, The Metro newspaper. (August ’20)

‘When I think of Essex, I think of the coast – traditional seaside resorts and fun on the pier – and the cities. But as one of the biggest counties in England, it shouldn’t be surprising that there’s far more to discover beyond the stereotypes, as I was reminded on a weekend. There’s far more to Essex than you might think…’
Cathy Winston, Travel Writer, Blogger, Mummytravels (October ’20)

We want to introduce you to some of the amazing people that help to make our county great.

For more information log on to www.visitessex.com

Shop Safe, Shop Early this Christmas

COVID19 has changed the way we live. Shopping is one aspect of that. Tendring District Council is extending its Shop Safe campaign, funded by the Government. The campaign has focused on shopping safely in Tendring, promoting all what the district has to offer, whilst reminding visitors, residents and shoppers to stay safe. Local businesses have been telling customers what measures they have put into place, such as sanitiser at the door, floor stickers to mark out safe distances and protective screens at the till points, all to keep people safe.

You can view some of the campaign videos on the Tendring District Council’s YouTube Channel https://youtu.be/63d4ax0NaRs.

With the Government issuing new guidance which restricts more than six people meeting, it is important that we all make Christmas shopping as safe as it can, when traditionally it is a time when shops can get very busy.

To try to reduce large numbers of Christmas shoppers in the lead up to Christmas, Tendring District Council, alongside local businesses, will promote Christmas shopping early this year.

Tendring District Council has created a Facebook Group for businesses and shoppers. Businesses are encouraged to promote their products and shoppers have a chance to shop local in the comfort of their own.

Please join the Shop Safe at Christmas Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ShopSafeTendringChristmas 

Olivia Reilly from Little Boat Gifts in Brightlingsea said, “We are a very small shop, and we are only allowed two households in the shop at one time, with restricted numbers. We are also a popular choice for people wanting Christmas gift ideas. So, we decided to open the shop after hours and are inviting people to book their individual timeslots to enable them to shop safely, and at their leisure. I support the Council promoting Shop Safe at Christmas because it gets people thinking about getting their Christmas shopping early and hopefully, we can avoid the Christmas rush, which could put people at risk.”

Councillor Mary Newton, Tendring District Council Cabinet Member for Business and Economic Growth, said that the Council wants to support businesses. “For many businesses Christmas is their busiest time, so we want to help support them and do it in a way to keep people safe. We would like to help people shop early for Christmas, to avoid a crowd within shops. We could all do with some festive cheer so it’s never too early for me to get organised.”

To find out more about Shop Safe please visit www.tendringdc.gov.uk/shopsafe.

Visit www.littleboatgifts.co.uk to find out more about booking an individual shopping slot.

Tendring keeps four Green Flags for its open spaces

Four open spaces in Tendring district have kept their prestigious Green Flag awards.

Cliff Park in Dovercourt, Crescent Gardens in Frinton, Weeley Crematorium Gardens and Clacton’s Seafront Gardens have all held on to the quality mark, awarded by Keep Britain Tidy.

Michael Talbot, Cabinet Member for Environment at Tendring District Council (TDC), said community support was at the heart of the open spaces’ success.

“This year, perhaps more than any other, we have as a community enjoyed our parks and open spaces as they have become a place to take our daily exercise at the height of lockdown and to meet friends in a safer, outdoor setting,” Councillor Talbot said.

“Our open spaces team work incredibly hard, hand-in-hand with local volunteers, to keep our green spaces so vibrant for residents and visitors alike to enjoy.

“With the limits placed upon us by Covid-19, and our particularly hot weather this year, that is no easy job, and I applaud their dedication which is recognised by the retaining of these four Green Flags.”

Clacton Seafront Gardens won its first Green Flag in 2009, with Frinton’s Crescent Gardens joining its ranks the following year. Weeley Crematorium’s grounds received a Green Flag in 2013, while Cliff Park was first awarded the flag in 2016.

Commenting on TDC’s success, Keep Britain Tidy Chief Executive Allison Ogden-Newton OBE said: “This year, more than ever, our parks and green spaces have been a lifeline and we know that millions of people have used them to relax, meet friends, exercise or simply escape for a short time.

“It is testament to the incredible dedication and hard work of parks staff and volunteers that, despite the challenges that went along with record numbers of visitors, TDC has achieved the highest international standards demanded by the Green Flag Award.”

The Green Flag Award scheme, managed by environmental charity Keep Britain Tidy under licence from the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, recognises and rewards well-managed parks and green spaces, setting the benchmark standard for their management across the United Kingdom and around the world. More than 2,000 green spaces in the UK have been recognised this year.