Monthly Archives: March 2013

Mayflower II starts her sea trials





Extract from the ‘Brixham Western Guardian’ 28th March 1957

As the time for the sailing of the Mayflower II, replica of the Pilgrim Fathers’ ship, approaches, controversy grows over the probable outcome of the adventure.

Sceptics insist stubbornly, “She’ll end up by being towed across.” And just as stubbornly  – but in more picturesque language – her master, Alan Villiers, insists that she’ll sail her passage.




As the Mayflower II is entirely rigged with hemp rope, like her predecessor, instead of the steel wire and flexible steel wire ropes which stand up to the chafing so much better, Villiers spent six weeks last year in one of the last ships in the world with a galleon hull and cordage rigging – in the Maldive Islands.

In a 200 ton ship with no modern comforts he worked with the native crew, getting the feel of the cordage, sketching the run of the rigging and noting methods of avoiding chafe. He also questioned the men who made the ropes and tackle.

Formal creation of the Mayflower Foundation was announced by Sir Alfred Bossom, Conservative M.P. for Maidstone , at a reception at the House of Commons on Monday.  The reception was given to mark the completion of Mayflower II, which as Sir Alfred confirmed, is to begin her voyage across the Atlantic “somewhere between April 10th and April 15th.”

Mayflower II is to be presented to the American people as a gesture of enduring goodwill, and Sir Alfred Bossom said that the duty of the Foundation will be to administer the surplus funds left after paying for her building and voyage, by providing Anglo-American exchange scholarships.

Mayflower II will begin her trials in Torbay on Monday, if the weather is suitable. After completing the trials, the length of which has still to be decided, the replica of the Pilgrim Fathers’ ship will sail to Plymouth.



And here’s an advertisement which appeared in the same edition of the paper…





Chairman’s Message


Thank you Torbay Council

The upstairs “hierarchy”, the “powers that be” or whatever you want to call those that inhabit the top floor of the Museum, are incredibly relieved and grateful that Torbay Council have continued to award the Museum the Grant for the coming year. Thankfully this means that the Museum can go ahead with all future plans without being hampered with worried thoughts of a financial nature. We would like to extend very grateful thanks to all the Torbay Officers and Councillors who supported the Museum, especially at this time of austerity.

We give thanks also to Brixham town Council for the Grant which enabled the Museum to infill the first floor windows, now depicting from the outside the history of Brixham. Have you looked up?

Earlier last year the Torbay Mayor, Gordon Oliver, awarded the Museum £600 which has been used to promote heritage crafts, the results of which will be on show during a free Heritage Day at the Museum on 1st June. Thank you very much, Gordon Oliver! We would be delighted to see you on that day. Whilst I am in a thanking mood, I want to thank all the Museum volunteers and the paid “workers” for all the time given to improve and update this best, small Museum.

A belated “Happy New Year”.



Prehistoric worked flints from Berry Head



BH Neolithic 3 arrowheads


Grants received from the Council for British Archaeology (CBA) Challenge Fund and Torbay Coast and Countryside Trust (TCCT) are currently enabling Brixham Heritage Museum to carry out a detailed study of a collection of over 1,360 prehistoric worked flints with the assistance of archaeological consultant Tim Gent (Archaedia, Winkleigh, Devon).

These ancient flints were recovered from Berry Head during excavations last year (2012) carried out by the Museum’s volunteer archaeological team directed by Museum curator Dr Philip Armitage. Assistance in digging at the site during the summer was provided by TCCT Berry Head Rangers and Torquay Museum Young Explorer Club members. Also participating were groups of preschool children; possibly the youngest children ever in Britain digging at an actual archaeological site! The digs for preschoolers formed part of the programme organised by Brixham Museum for the Torbay Childminders HLF-funded Mini-museum project.

In the earliest stages of excavation, the recovered flints were believed to be debitage (waste products) of flint knapping (tool making using locally sourced beach pebbles) during the Mesolithic (Middle Stone Age) around 8,000 years ago. However, the discovery towards the end of the excavation of three leaf-shaped arrowheads, a rubbing stone from a saddle quern and pieces of pottery lead to revision in the dating of the site, now thought to have been occupied by an early Neolithic (New Stone Age) hunting farming community around 5,000 years ago.

Prompted by last year’s exciting discoveries, the Museum hopes to be able to continue to investigate the Berry Head site this year and to publish a full report on the finds.