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In 1620, the Mayflower and the Speedwell set sail from Southampton for the New World with Pilgrims, passengers and crew onboard but they were forced to put into Dartmouth to repair the leaking Speedwell. Dartmouth was a thriving port at that time, with several shipyards that employed skilled shipwrights that could undertake the repair work. The ship was “thorowly searcht from steme to steme [and] some leaks were found & mended”; and then they waited several days for a fair wind. When they set sail again the Speedwell continued to leak, so they returned to Plymouth. “No spetiall leake could be founde”, but the Speedwell was abandoned, and the Mayflower set off alone. According to William Bradford’s account, the Speedwell’s master and crew “ploted this strategem to free themselves”.


During 2020, in common with 11 other destinations throughout the UK, Netherlands and the US, Dartmouth will be commemorating 400 years since the Pilgrims set sail for America, and the part our town played in that story. A major programme of activities are planned during 2020, including arts and culture events, educational projects and the opening of a Heritage Trail through the town.


The maritime focus of these events will be Mayflower Week – 29 August to 5 September 2020 – there will be a variety of activities on the river, between Totnes and the Harbour mouth, including fun races and ship visits.


The week will start on 29 August with a “day sail” for local disabled and disadvantaged young people in SV Tenacious, followed on 30 August by a Grand River Pageant involving local and visiting craft of all types, led by Matthew of Bristol and Pilgrim of Brixham representing Mayflower and Speedwell respectively.


MAYFLOWER 400


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