A MULTI-MILLION pound project to build a full-size replica of The Mayflower ship could get underway in Harwich if a group of businessmen get their wish.

The group of businessmen have formed two action groups in the hope of taking on projects which will boost tourism and trade in Harwich and Dovercourt and one of their first projects is to build the 110ft by 25ft 17th Century ship in the town.

The Harwich Regeneration Trust and The Consortium of Businessmen were formed earlier this year and have taken on a number of ambitious projects.

The captain of The Mayflower, Christopher Jones, lived in King’s Quay Street, Harwich, and went on several voyages to America during the early part of the 1600s to transport wine, spices, furs and pilgrims.

The consortium of businessmen, made up of business leaders in Harwich, are now pursuing funding for the ambitious project, which is expected to cost around £4 Million and take between 18 months to three years to build.

Founder member of the group, Tony Woods, of AJ Woods Engineering, said: “Harwich is one of the most historical ports in England, there is just so much history here.

“The Mayflower replica would give Harwich an epicentre for tourism that the town needs and I am very keen to be involved in anything that is going to regenerate the area and bring in more jobs.”

The consortium’s sister group, The Harwich Regeneration Trust, are now hoping to pay for vital restoration work on the train ferry gantry tower, in George Street, Harwich, which they say is an important historical landmark for the town.

The tower is currently on Tendring Council’s list of buildings “at risk”.

Harwich town councillor and founder member of the trust, Ricky Callender, said: “We want to get the gantry tower back to how it should be; a tourist attraction in Harwich.

“The gantry tower is an important landmark and it is part of old Harwich. It is such a shame to keep losing these things.

“The two groups have been set up to try and take on as much heritage as we can before it is all demolished.”

“We have over a million people come into Parkeston Quay and none of them come into Harwich or Dovercourt. If we are just going to put up flats and houses in Harwich then people will never come.”

“If you are going to build something like The Mayflower you only have to think of the amount of trade involved and the tourism it would bring in would be phenomenal.”

The idea of building a replica of The Mayflower in Harwich was first broached in 1986 when Dovercourt businesswoman and conservationist, Pamela Cullen, announced plans to build one.

It was thought the 90ft replica could include a museum and arts complex but plans never got off the ground.

The first replica of the ship was built in England in 1957 and was taken to America.

Several successful projects to build replicas of the historic vessel have been undertaken since, but none in Harwich.