My Mayflower and Mayflower II

Welcome to the last day of this year’s History Festival, and our second day exploring the Mayflower story and its links with Plymouth.

We have lots of interesting things to share with you throughout the day, including podcasts recorded by Dr Kathryn Gray and Jo Loosemore – the stars of yesterday’s live Q&A – and insights into the huge amount of work Plymouth has been doing in collaboration with the Wampanoag in Massachusetts. We’ll round off the day, and this year’s festival, with a special video performance by storyteller, Katy Cawkwell.


To start the day, we wanted to highlight the recently launched My Mayflower series, which is sharing stories through the eyes of those linked to the ship’s legacy.

The first video brings to life the people connected to the Mayflower II – including those involved in building the ship after World War II, those who sailed it across the Atlantic and those recently involved in its restoration.

Mayflower II was built by skilled shipwrights in Brixham from 1955-1557 and given to the USA as a gift from England for its support during World War II.

25 feet wide and 106 feet long, with four masts and six sails, it sailed from Plymouth, UK on 20 April 1957 in a recreation of the original 1620 voyage. It arrived in Massachusetts, USA on 22 June.

This unused postcard from the city’s social history collections was issued when Mayflower II began her voyage from the UK to the USA.

It features a black and white image of a well-known painting called ‘The Departure of the Pilgrim Fathers 1620’. The original painting is colour and shows some of the passengers boarding the Mayflower for their voyage to America. It was created by Bernard Gribble (1872-1962), a prolific marine artist and illustrator who was once said to have painted ‘almost every historic event that took place on water’.

The city’s archive collections also contain a series of drawings of the Mayflower II – here’s a small selection.

Find out more about the Mayflower II’s incredible restoration project here.

Watch the brilliant My Mayflower video about the Mayflower II below and enjoy the rest of the day!

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