SHIP builders swapped chisels for paintbrushes to decorate a new visitor centre in Harwich.

The Mayflower Project officially opened the new building on Sunday to coincide with the annual Sea Festival.

Spokesman Sean Day said: “There are town charters, 3D models, news released from America and all sorts of Mayflower ship and pilgrim paraphernalia.”

The Mayflower Project hopes the visitor centre will link with walking tours of historic Harwich arranged by the Harwich Society.

To celebrate the official opening, the project’s new Mayflower Pipe Band played at the centre.

Harwich mayor and mayoress Alan and Sylvia Todd, and the town crier James Cole also paid a visit to mark the occasion.

The project, which started in 2008, aims to build a replica of the pilgrim ship to sail on the historic route to America on the 400th anniversary of the original 66-day journey, in 2020.