Keeping the '50s Alive!

It Happened in the 1950’s: Mayflower II

When I came to Plymouth, I knew I’d see and hear a lot about the pilgrims’ journey of how they sailed over on the Mayflower in 1620. Truthfully, this does not hold the meaning to me that it may hold for some of my fellow Americans. My ancestors did not come to America until the beginning of the 20th Century. However! That does not mean that I don’t find the story of the Mayflower important.

What impresses me the most is not the original Mayflower that famously sailed to Plymouth Rock in 1620. It’s the fact that a replica of the Mayflower exists. And it made its journey across the Atlantic back good ole 1957.

Mayflower II sets sail. Source: Pinterest

Before I got to Plymouth in July of 2021, I had no idea there even was a Mayflower II. On my first day in town, a sign in a display case next to a piece of hemp rope on a pulley caught my eye. The sign said about how in 1957, The Mayflower II made her transatlantic voyage.

“1957!” I thought. “Now that’s my preferred time in history!”

So here’s a bit of history on Mayflower II:

The idea for the ship began in August of 1954 as presented by Warwick Charlton. Plimoth Plantation had been wanting to add a Mayflower replica to its museum for sometime. It would also serve as a commemorative symbol of the co-operation between the United Kingdom and the United States during WWII.

In the Spring of 1955, production of Mayflower II began in Brixham, Devon, England. The ship was built as accurately as possible, making it a superb replica of the historic boat which carried many American ancestors to the New World.

It pleases me to know that Mayflower II is indeed a product of the 1950s! She was launched from Brixham harbor on September 22, 1956. (just 2 weeks after Lubbock’s upcoming record star, Buddy Holly, had his 20th Birthday.)

On April 20, 1957, Mayflower II began her voyage across the Atlantic where she finally settled in Plymouth Harbor. To this day, she is an educational tourist attraction just feet away from Plymouth Rock itself.

Mayflower II receiving visitors, Summer, 2021. Photo by John Ferro.

Mayflower II was repaired in Fairhaven Shipyard in 2012. The goal was to have her in pristine condition in time for the original Mayflower’s 400th Anniversary in 2020.

Between December 2014 and 2020, she was on display during repairs in Mystic Seaport. She returned to Plymouth Harbor on November 1, 2016 and sailed through the Cape Cod canal. On September 7, 2019 (what would have been Buddy Holly’s 83rd Birthday), Mayflower II was again launched in a public ceremony.

In addition, the ship’s been around the Boston area only recently as well. I’m just catching up with all this now. All I know from my point of view is when I got here, there was Mayflower II, looking pretty impressive in Plymouth Harbor.

Mayflower II parked in Plymouth Harbor, Summer 2021. Photo by John Ferro.

At first glance, I actually thought it was a restaurant shaped like a boat, or some kind of decorative attraction. From a distance through the green leaf-covered trees, I couldn’t even tell if it was in the water or just sitting on the shore. I had no idea that the boat-like structure I was looking at was Mayflower II, or the history behind it. But remember, I spent the first 30-something years of my life on the California Coast. Now that I know more about it, I think Mayflower II is pretty cool, especially since the concept and the boat itself came to be in the 1950’s.

My parents enjoyed a visit to Mayflower II last summer. I will probably check it out in the future with my favorite Aunt who hasn’t been on board yet either.

Retro Dee’s folks aboard Mayflower II, Summer 2021. Photo by some guy.

Thank you for reading my post. You can find out more about Mayflower II at Plimoth Patuxet Museums

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