The plan to celebrate the anniversaries associated with the Separatists, or Pilgrim Fathers as they became known,and to promote their heritage started in June 2004 when as a Councillor for Bassetlaw District Council, Barry Bowles became responsible for Economic Regeneration and Tourism. In addition to his life long interest in the Pilgrim Fathers he could see the economic benefits of encouraging people to visit North Nottinghamshire - in contrast to the Separatists who fled the area to escape persecution.

The vision that he had was not shared by many so support and progress was slow. Fortunately, Roger Ransom, Head of Economic Regeneration and Tourism, shared his enthusiasm and slowly but surely progress was made.

A few notable landmarks became important milestones to help the concept become a reality.


Barry Bowles

The first was an invitation to attend a book launch and signing at Gainsborough Old Hall in July 2005 of the Mayflower Maid a historial novel by Sue Allan and American, Roger Vorhauer. who were both as passionate about the Pilgrim Fathers as Barry Bowles. In September 2005 Sue and Roger went to America to promote their book amongst the descendents of the Pilgrim Fathers. To assist the developments in Bassetlaw they took as many Bassetlaw and Pilgrim Fathers Guides as could be shipped over. The links began to come together.

The next significant event was the appointment of Sandra Withington, now also Secretary of the Association, as Economic Regeneration Development Officer to Bassetlaw DC in September 2005. As an added bonus Sandra is also passionate about the Pilgrim Fathers.

Sue Allan then introduced Dr. Jeremy Bangs, the Director of the Leiden American Pilgrim Museum in Holland. As Dr. Bangs is probably the world's leading historian on the Pilgrim Fathers this link was exciting and invaluable. The enthusiasm became infectious and the 'project' was established.

It was now apparent that the economic benefits to the local area could be significant and, as word spread, enquiries started to come in from outside the District. It was time to consider whether this was to be just a Bassetlaw District Council initiative or whether it should include other parties. Pilgrim Country straddles three districts - Bassetlaw in North Nottinghamshire, Doncaster in South Yorkshire and West Lindsey in Lincolnshire - in the guise of Babworth and Scooby churches, Austerfield church and Gainsborough Old Hall.

On 25th November 2005 Bassetlaw and Doncaster councils hosted a meeting of interested parties at Bawtry Hall where the proofs of the new Pilgrim Fathers/ Mayflower Trail brochure and guide were presented. The diversity of organisations attending made it obvious that it could not remain a Bassetlaw Council initiative. It was suggested that a Steering Group should be formed with a Chair who was independent to protect it from any local authority changes.

The first Steering Group meeting was held at Doncaster, Sheffield Robin Hood Airport on 20th January 2006. It was decided that this should become an independent, not for profit, Association, and Anthony Darbyshire was elected as its independent Chair.

The 22nd of May saw the launch of the Pilgrim Fathers. Mayflower Trail brochure at the Crown Hotel, Bawtry attended by Dr. Bangs and the New Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association was also introduced. This was followed by a tour of Pilgrim Country for guests and the press. The Assocation was launched.


The Association Launch

 

© Pilgrim Fathers UK Origins Association - Photographs courtesy of Dr. Jeremy Bangs copyright reserved