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Plymouth's Mayflower Steps will be lit up to commemorate pilgrim past

The Mayflower steps are due to be lit up today, Thanksgiving Day Credit: ITV News

Lights for the Mayflower Steps in Plymouth are being switched on for the first time this afternoon, to commemorate the city's pilgrim history.

Up to 16 million Americans can trace their ancestry back to the voyage which set sail from the city in 1620. Plymouth is planning a huge celebration to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower in five years' time.

Plymouth is planning a huge celebration to mark the 400th anniversary of the Mayflower in five years' time. Credit: ITV West Country
Credit: ITV West Country

US Ambassador to open Mayflower museum

This model of the Mayflower is the centrepiece of the museum in Plymouth Credit: ITV News

Plymouth is kicking off its plans for celebrating the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower with a visit by the American Ambassador to the UK.

Matthew Barzun is in the city to officially re-open the Mayflower museum on the Barbican, which charts the history of the historic voyage.

Plymouth is planning a huge celebration to mark the anniversary in five years' time.

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Full report: Plymouth's claim to historic ship, the Mayflower, challenged by Essex town

Plymouth's claim to the historic ship the Mayflower is being challenged by a town in Essex. Campaigners say the Mayflower's home port was Harwich, where she was built and where her captain was born.

They also claim that the Pilgrim Fathers only set foot in the West Country briefly before sailing to America nearly 400 years ago. Watch Jacquie Bird's report.

Harwich challenges Plymouth over Mayflower heritage

A rival claim to be the spiritual home of the 'Mayflower' ship is being made by Harwich. The Essex town's supporters say it was the Mayflower's home port, the place she was built and the birthplace of her captain. They are now building a replica ship.

The Mayflower transported 102 pilgrims to New England in 1620. Plymouth is home to the Mayflower Steps in the city's Barbican area - the point at which the pilgrims are said to have boarded the ship, leaving England for North America.

Traditionally, Plymouth is the city most associated with the Mayflower's voyage. Harwich campaigners say their town should get more recognition for its role in the ship's history.

Essex town challenging Plymouth's claim to 400-year-old ship the Mayflower

Campaigners in Plymouth say the home port for the Mayflower is Harwich and not in Essex. Credit: ITV Westcountry

An Essex town is challenging Plymouth's claims over the historic ship the Mayflower.

Campaigners say her home port was Harwich. She was built there and her captain was born there.

They say the Pilgrim Fathers only set foot in the West Country briefly before starting their voyage to America nearly 400 years ago