Harleston school children race model boats to mark 400 years since the Mayflower voyage
Pupils of a school have marked the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower’s crossing to America, with a boat race.
Children from Harleston Primary School built boats with materials supplied prior to the event, before racing them downstream between two bridges on the River Waveney.
The race, which took place in Homersfield on Saturday at 10am, involved boats powered solely on wind and current, with a referee team stood in the river ready to dislodge any boats that became stuck.
Gordon Lascelles, 66, who organised the event with the help of community organisation Harleston’s Future, said: “We had around a dozen children turn out, which was a good number. We didn’t want too many there as you need to be able to keep everyone safe around river banks.
“The boat race made a perfect addition to the other activities and learning they are doing about the Mayflower crossing, and we may yet make it an annual event. The jury is still out on that currently.
Celebrating the 400-year anniversary of the Mayflower crossing is so important for Harleston, because as well as four people from the town being part of that 66-day voyage, those settlers created a compact upon arrival, which was an agreement to make all decisions jointly. This became a cornerstone of the Declaration of Independence which followed later.”
Of the 102 settlers who crossed the Atlantic on September 6 in 1620 to form that first colony in the United States, around half survived until the spring of 1621, having endured a freezing winter aboard their moored ship.
Trevor Graham, who works with Harleston’s Future coordinating the Mayflower 400 in Harleston celebrations, said: “ Many events were planned for the commemoration through this year, but were then put on hold.
"However, we are working to reschedule as many as possible."
We also have monthly Zoom lectures running, starting on October 15 with the topic of the Mayflower in Rotherhithe, London where the ship began her journey.