A TOURISM board is busy getting Harwich “shipshape” ahead of next year’s Mayflower 400 celebrations.

The Mayflower ship - captained by the town’s resident Christopher Jones - is famous for taking the pilgrim fathers to America in 1620.

With the 400th anniversary of the voyage next September, Harwich’s Tourism Board has discussed a host of projects for the town leading up to the milestone.

Paul Milsom, chairman of Harwich’s Tourism Group, said at its meeting at The Pier Hotel, on Monday, many projects are currently underway.

He said: “I think we have a really compelling offer here for visitors to see what Harwich has to offer.

“It’s all about tourists and visitors coming into Harwich and learning the maritime message when they arrive.”

In April a welcome to Harwich sign with a picture of the Mayflower will be installed.

A sculpture of a replica of the Mayflower on the blue roundabout in Freshfield’s Road, Dovercourt, is set to be completed by the end of spring.

On May 15, there will be a community rail day where the Harwich Society is invited to go to London Liverpool Street on a train named after Christopher Jones.

The Mayflower ship sculpture will be attached to the train for people to see in London.

Terri Ryland, of Community Rail Partnership, said: “We are now working out how to get the boat sculpture there.”

The Harwich Mayflower Heritage Centre has arranged for the Cavell Van to be on display in the town from July 5 to July 14.

The van transported the repatriated body of Captain Fryatt to London on July 8, 1919, and then onto Dovercourt where he is now buried. He was captured and execution by the Germans in July 1916 for his attempt to ram a U-boat.

The carriage also repatriated the body of nurse Edith Cavell to Norwich and the remains of the Unknown Warrior who is now famously interred in Westminster Abbey.

Mike Carran, Tendring Council’s head of sport and leisure, said the council is looking to install a history trail in October which includes tourist boards to get the town in shipshape.

He said: “They will give tourists a sense of identity around the town.

“We want to send everything planned on this to designers by May.”

There were also talks at the meeting about installing 25 maps around the town, 30 pavement plaques and up to 50 signs with tourist information.

In addition to this the board discussed the possibility of a Christopher Jones sculpture being built in the town.

Mr Carran added that Harwich Illuminate Festival, in November, will be the launch for the Mayflower 400 celebrations.