The port of Harwich is a must-see destination for history-lovers. It is the place where the Mayflower ship is believed to have been built and where its captain, Christopher Jones lived and was twice wed.
Visit the historic town, see the house where Christopher Jones lived and the church where he was married. Other attractions include the Electric Palace , one of Britain’s first cinemas (which has local actor Clive Owen as its patron), and the atmospheric Redoubt Fort, which dates back to the Napoleonic Wars. Famed diarist Samuel Pepys who was once MP for the town. The Historic Harwich society provide informative guided tours.
Harwich is the UK's second busiest passenger ferry port, its harbour, which is the largest between the Humber, in the north of England, and London, was created by a storm surge in the 1100s, a quirk of fate that gave rise to the area’s long and fascinating seafaring history.
The attractive old town was built on a grid pattern, in the 13th Century, by the Earl of Norfolk, to exploit its strategic position at the mouth of the Stour/Orwell estuary. The famous seafarers Hawkins, Drake and Frobisher all sailed from Harwich during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I on various expeditions.
An enjoyable way to discover the historic town is to follow its Maritime Heritage Trail. From Ha'Penny Pier Visitor Centre on the Quay there are guided walking tours throughout the summer. Start your walk at the Low Lighthouse Maritime Museum built in 1818 and Lifeboat Museum, where you can get aboard a lifeboat and ending at the Barge Murals which overlook the site where Thames Sailing Barges were built up to 1930. A special gem is the Treadwheel Crane, built in 1667, a kind of colossal hamster wheel based on a Roman design. The crane was worked by men walking in the interior of two large wheels to raise and lower goods and materials. As far as is known Harwich has the only British example.
On route down the quaint streets there is the chance to take in gems such as the Electric Palace Cinema, built in 1911 and now the oldest unaltered purpose built cinema in Britain. St Nicholas Church which was rebuilt 1821 and The Redoubt Fort which was built in 1808 as a large circular fort to protect the harbour from a Napoleonic invasion. These are just a few of the outstanding treasures the trail has to offer. Also visit the old Radar Tower, at Beacon Hill Fort, which was the first radar installation of the second world war, and can be opened on request to the Harwich Visitor Centre.
Harwich is a coastal port in the county of Essex. The Harwich Mayflower project is a volunteer led project to recreate the Mayflower ship. Based in the ship yard, using traditional ship building skills the project includes a visitor centre and tours.