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Boston at International Mayflower 400 launch

Boston, key in the story of the original Pilgrims, has been represented at the official international launch at the House of Commons of Mayflower 400 - a global celebration of the arrival of the early settlers in the New World 400 years ago.

Council Leader Cllr Michael Cooper, and the council's leisure and tourism portfolio holder Cllr Claire Rylott, joined other Mayflower 400 partners to hear plans for the build-up to the 400th anniversary celebrations in 2020.

Boston has already embraced its connection with the Pilgrim Fathers, holding Illuminate parades as part of the Christmas celebrations for the past three years.

The popular events, masterminded by Transported, the Boston and South Holland arts organisation, have seen schoolchildren and local groups taking part in workshops to craft the handheld illuminated models paraded through the town centre. These have included a giant model of the Mayflower, giant Pilgrim Father and Mother and hundreds of fish, birds and stars. This year's spectacular event included huge, ornate, illuminated costumes worn by dancers.

Cllr Cooper and Cllr Rylott joined representatives from the other ten UK destinations with Mayflower connections: Gainsbough and Immingham, Lincolnshire; Austerfield, Doncaster; Dartmouth, Devon; Harwich, Essex; Plymouth, Devon; Scrooby and Babworth, Nottinghamshire; Southwark, London; Southampton, Hampshire, and Worcestershire.

Cllr Rylott said: "When you consider how the events of almost 400 years ago changed the course of world history we were among auspicious company at the launch of what will be a four-nation commemoration.

"The three Transported Illuminate parades in Boston so far have been precursors of an increase in a programme of art, music, theatre, exhibitions, storytelling, literature, festivals, debates and much more.

"There will be opportunities for Boston and the other ten UK destinations, who are working together, each with their own unique connection to the story. A new 'Mayflower Trail' is being developed for visitors to explore. It will drive economic growth, enhance the visitor experience and promote understanding and education of this pivotal moment in history."

Cllr Cooper added: "This milestone in UK and US history is set to boost the UK economy and attract more than 1.4 million visitors during the Mayflower 400 commemoration year, yielding an anticipated economic impact in excess of £76 million, and Boston will be a part of that."

Adrian Vinken, Chairman of Mayflower 400 said "Of the 30-plus million global descendants from the 102 passengers and crew on board the Mayflower ship, more than ten million are US citizens, so it stands to reason that these people especially, will be looking to travel to the UK to learn more about their ancestral roots and follow in the footsteps of the Mayflower Pilgrims."

VisitBritain/VisitEngland Chief Executive Sally Balcombe said: "We know that visitors from the US are interested in finding out about their history and Mayflower 400 will draw more tourists to our shores

The Mayflower 400 UK national visitor project aims to reach out to the descendants and other ancestral tourists to invite them to visit England and be a part of the anniversary year." 

Many visitors from America come to Boston in search of their roots. And while the Pilgrim Fathers' connection with the town was fleeting, it was influential in the development of the modern-day USA.

Those pilgrims of today from across the pond come to Boston because of the documented escape to religious freedom from these shores of their forefathers.

So far as the historic records can be trusted there is no doubting that the Pilgrim Fathers sought to make their first escape bid overseas from the Lincolnshire coast, close to Boston, in 1607, were betrayed, arrested and locked up in the Guildhall.

Mayflower 400 launch Displays a larger version of this image in a new browser window
Cllr Claire Rylott, Matt Warman MP and Cllr Michael Cooper at the Mayflower 400 launch at the House of Commons.

Related documents

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[1Mb] The Mayflower story The Mayflower story

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