THE FIRST tree has been cut to officially begin building a replica historical ship.

Construction of The Mayflower has now started after buildings manager Ashley Purvis cut the first oak on Friday, December 7.

The public were invited to witness the turning point in the pioneering project, which aims to build a replica ship to sail the pilgrim voyage to America while teaching young and unemployed people skills in dying trades.

The project has been teaching courses out of a renovated Harwich Town train station building.

It hopes to transform a second station building into workshops and classrooms by April next year.

It has converted the old railshed into a workspace to cut templates for the ship’s components as well as a museum with models of ships through the ages.

There are plans to extend the exhibition space as the project grows.