Councillors confirm funding boost for Pilgrim Roots project

Nottinghamshire County Council has pledged a further £55,000 for events to mark the county's Pilgrim roots, as local and national plans are put in place to roll out the red carpet for an expected surge in visitors from the United States in 2020.

The 2020 Mayflower commemorations will mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower ship sailing from England to America. Many of the Mayflower Pilgrims - including their leader, William Brewster from Scrooby, near Retford - were from Nottinghamshire. He was influenced by the religious separatist preaching of Richard Clifton,  who was the rector at the nearby All Saints’ church in Babworth.

In total, 102 men, women and children took the 66-day, perilous journey from England to Massachussetts in September 1620. Today, a staggering 35 million people claim an ancestral lineage that runs back through 15 generations to the 'founding fathers' on board the Mayflower.

Members of the County Council's Policy Committee have agreed to contribute £25,000 towards a Heritage Lottery Fund in support of activities led bid by the Pilgrim Roots Partnership, which includes the County and District Councils, tourism bodies and voluntary groups.

The partnership is hoping to secure £450,000 in Lottery funding for its 'The Pilgrim roots: The Separatists Story, mayflower 400 and beyond" project, which includes plans for:

  • a regional trail linking key Pilgrim heritage sites from Retford to Gainsborough;
  • a dedicated Pilgrim Roots gallery at Bassetlaw Museum in Retford;
  • a range of digital resources dedicated to the story, including a website;
  • nine interpretation panels located at key sites, with supporting wi-fi access.

Councillors also committed a further £30,000 for activities to mark Nottinghamshire's wider association with the separatists story and religious heritage to add to the tourism offer around the 2020 anniversary.

Cllr Jo White, Cabinet Member for Regeneration at Bassetlaw District Council, said: “This funding is very welcome and we thank Nottinghamshire County Council for their support of this project. The £25k that will directly be coming to us will support and help to leverage £450k of Heritage Lottery Funding that will create a Pilgrim Roots Gallery at Bassetlaw Museum.

“It’s vital to get things in place before 2020 and have suitable assets that will be ready to welcome American visitors, as well as visitors from the UK, and offer an engaging and enjoyable visitor experience.

“The gallery will be a focal point for visitors who can also choose to travel out across North Nottinghamshire and Lincolnshire to the other Pilgrim villages such as Sturton-le-Steeple, Scrooby, Babworth, Austerfield and Gainsborough.

“A recent feasibility study predicted that Bassetlaw is likely to benefit to the tune of approx. £2M just in the year 2020. But we hope to have a lasting legacy beyond 2020 and we are already looking at plans to celebrate the 400th anniversary between Boston in Lincolnshire and Boston Massachusetts in 2030.”

Cllr Kay Cutts, Leader of Nottinghamshire County Council and Chairman of the Policy Committee, said: "The Mayflower Voyage effectively led to the creation of one of the most powerful nations in the world and is the foundation for the special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States. It's staggering to think that this amazing chain of events started here in Nottinghamshire and is something we are extremely proud of.

"We've been working closely with our partners in Nottinghamshire and in other parts of the country with pilgrim links to develop some exciting plans for the run-up to 2020 and beyond, which the £55,000 we are committing will help to deliver.

"The 400th anniversary offers the potential for massive economic, tourism, educational and cultural benefits for Nottinghamshire, which we are determined to maximise."

Published: Thursday 08 February 2018