Mayflower 11 painting brings memories sailing back for birthday boy Eddie

Couple in lounge with Mayflower painting on wall

Eddie and Jean Phillips with the Mayflower 11 painting - Credit: Submitted

Eddie Phillips was ‘over the moon’ when his extra-special 90th birthday present arrived. 

The specially-commissioned painting of the famous Mayflower11 brought the memories flooding back. 

For his dad, George, was the foreman in charge of building the famous replica ship at the local Uphams boatyard more than 60 years ago. 

The connections don’t stop there either – Eddie’s wife Jean’s dad, Bill Merchant, was one of the shipwrights who also worked on the project.

Painting of boat

The Mayflower 11 - Credit: Submitted

Eddie, who was celebrating his 90th on Friday, said from his home in Brixham: “My dad was the foreman in charge of building the Mayflower 11 at Uphams in the 1950s.  

“She was launched in 1957. She subsequently sailed across the Atlantic to Plymouth in Massachusetts in the USA where she is still in dock now and is one of the major tourist attractions over there." 

The ship is a replica of the original Mayflower ship that brought the Pilgrims to Plymouth, Massachusetts, in 1620. 

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Eddie remembers the work at Uphams where skilled craftsmen like Bill were used because of their expertise with using old-fashioned tools and techniques needed for working on wooden boats. 

Artist in gallery with work

Artist Gordon Allen - Credit: Submitted

Artist Gordon Allen, one of Brixham’s famous harbourside artists for over 50 years, and from the Strand Art Gallery, was commissioned to paint the painting. It was going to be a Christmas present from Jean but wouldn't’ have been finished in time. 

Eddie was delighted when Tina Stockman, wife of Strand Art Gallery owner Andrew, rang to say the painting was ready. 

“It is absolutely brilliant and I am over the moon with it,” said Eddie. 

Tina said: “Gordon in his 53 years of professional painting always wanted to do a painting of Mayflower 2. It is fantastic. The couple were bowled over when my husband, Andrew, took the painting round to them in time for his 90th birthday. 

“It was wonderful to see the delight on their faces."

Eddie and Jean, who have been married for 63 years, actually visited the Mayflower 11 exhibition with a group from Brixham in 2007. 

It is not the first time Gordon has done a piece of work for Eddie. He painted a picture of the Torbay Lass trawler for his 40th birthday 50 years ago. 

Old Brixham trawler painting

The Torbay Lass - Credit: Submitted

“I just love trawlers,” said Eddie who can trace his family’s roots in Brixham back 1668 with most of them fishermen..

Eddie decided to stay on dry land and was a upholsterer before retiring – although some of his cushions did end up on luxury yachts.