FEARS have been raised the Mayflower ship replica being built in Harwich will not be ready to sail on the 2020 anniversary after work is claimed to have ground to a halt.

The Mayflower Project in George Street, Harwich launched in 2010.

It aims to build an identical ship to the Mayflower, which sailed the pilgrim faithers' to America in 1620, which will retrace the historic journey as part of the Mayflower 400 anniversary celebrations and then become a tourist attraction moored in Harwich.

In December 2012 the first oak tree was cut.

By July 2014 the keel had been laid and the sternpost fitted on to it, and at Christmas the first frame, or rib, was completed and lifted into place.

But despite wood being cut for the next frame this summer, nothing else has been added to the bones of the ship, which will total 200-tonnes when finished.

Visitor Charles Hemel, who signed up for regular email updates from an online blog about the build after a holiday in the town, is concerned with the progress.

Mr Hemel, from Tiverton in Devon, said: "I'm somewhat disappointed to hear that little to no progress has been made with the build.

"With only one frame in place, I'd imagine the Harwich mayflower will be ready for the 500 year anniversary in 2120, not 2020.

"Surely such a historic town could rally together and help the charity."

His fears were prompted by the latest entry on the independent Ship's Blog written by James Kelly.

The blog said: "It’s been almost a year since the last update to the build and since then absolutely nothing has happened.

"I am still hopeful that I will be able to stand on the Harwich Quay in 2020 and wave off the Mayflower as she sets sail to The New World. "Unfortunately as we sail into 2016, there’s a small part of me that thinks I may be walking past a derelict railway yard full of rotting oak instead."

But a spokesman for the project dismissed the claims and said the build was not intended to start until January 2016, so has in fact started early.

She added: “Over the past three years the project has concentrated on the training centre.

“It’s about building the ship but it’s about what the ship will give to the area afterwards.”

The Mayflower Project has today launched a new friends scheme.

For £30, or £15 concessions, members of the public can get updates, a certificate and be entered into a spring prize draw to win a case of Mayflower wine.

For details see the website on www.harwichmayflower.com