Cultural exchange between Billerica, MA, USA and Billericay, UK

Billerica and Billericay February 25, 2012

Filed under: Welcome — billericabillericay @ 6:45 pm
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2012 – Hello Twinning enthusiasts! The Billerica Twinning Association has asked me to start this blog to inspire more consistent interaction and discussion between the members of the Billerica Twinning Association and the Billericay Mayflower Twinning Association.

2013 – This year the Billerica Twinning Association members will submit posts to this blog that correspond to the dates and events noted on our commemorative 2013 calendar. The calendar was created in celebration of the 15th Anniversary of the Twinning of two towns – Billericay Essex England and Billerica MA USA

We would love to post and share your stories and photos relating to a Billerica/Billericay connection. Please email  –

Jayne G.


Neil Diamond turns 73 January 29, 2014

Filed under: Uncategorized — billericabillericay @ 12:56 pm

Neil Diamond turned 73 on January 24, 2014.  One of the most versatile and dynamic entertainers  of the last 50 years, Neil has sold more that 125 million records, and is the third most successful adult contemporary singer in history, after Barbara Streisand and Sir Elton John.  Neil Diamond ‘s first hit was Cherry, Cherry, in 1966, and has had 39 top 40 hits.  Born in Brooklyn, NY, he also  composed and starred in the remake of the movie, “The Jazz Singer”

Neil Diamond was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 1984 and the rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2011, as well as a Kennedy Center honoree in 2011.

His rousing rendition of his hit song, ‘ Sweet Caroline’ is a standard,  sung at the 8th inning during Red Sox games.  At the Saturday Red Sox game after the deadly bombings  in April, Neil Diamond arrived (at his own expense),   unannounced, 30 minutes before the game and asked if he could lead the song ‘Sweet Caroline’ in the middle of the eighth inning, giving his support and encouragement to those most affected by the tragedy.  He has written a new song ‘Freedom Song (They’ll Never Take Us Down )  “ .  motivated by the deadly incidents in Colorado, Connecticut and Boston.   All the proceeds from the single of this song will benefit the One fund and the Wounded Warriors Project.

 submitted by Doris P.


September 16, 1620 September 23, 2013

Filed under: Billerica,Billericay,History,Miscellaneous,Uncategorized — billericabillericay @ 1:34 am
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I copied this interesting story of the Mayflower sailing from

The photo is of my children visiting the  Mayflower replica in Plymouth, Massachusetts about 20 years ago!  The replica was restored this summer (2013) see attached story.img 1054

“The Mayflower sails from Plymouth, England, bound for the New World with 102 passengers. The ship was headed for Virginia, where the colonists–half religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs–had been authorized to settle by the British crown. However, stormy weather and navigational errors forced the Mayflower off course, and on November 21 the “Pilgrims” reached Massachusetts, where they founded the first permanent European settlement in New England in late December.

Thirty-five of the Pilgrims were members of the radical English Separatist Church, who traveled to America to escape the jurisdiction of the Church of England, which they found corrupt. Ten years earlier, English persecution had led a group of Separatists to flee to Holland in search of religious freedom. However, many were dissatisfied with economic opportunities in the Netherlands, and under the direction of William Bradford they decided to immigrate to Virginia, where an English colony had been founded at Jamestown in 1607.

The Separatists won financial backing from a group of investors called the London Adventurers, who were promised a sizable share of the colony’s profits. Three dozen church members made their way back to England, where they were joined by about 70 entrepreneurs–enlisted by the London stock company to ensure the success of the enterprise. In August 1620, the Mayflower left Southampton with a smaller vessel–the Speedwell–but the latter proved unseaworthy and twice was forced to return to port. On September 16, the Mayflower left for America alone from Plymouth.

In a difficult Atlantic crossing, the 90-foot Mayflower encountered rough seas and storms and was blown more than 500 miles off course. Along the way, the settlers formulated and signed the Mayflower Compact, an agreement that bound the signatories into a “civil body politic.” Because it established constitutional law and the rule of the majority, the compact is regarded as an important precursor to American democracy. After a 66-day voyage, the ship landed on November 21 on the tip of Cape Cod at what is now Provincetown, Massachusetts.

After coming to anchor in Provincetown harbor, a party of armed men under the command of Captain Myles Standish was sent out to explore the area and find a location suitable for settlement. While they were gone, Susanna White gave birth to a son, Peregrine, aboard the Mayflower. He was the first English child born in New England. In mid-December, the explorers went ashore at a location across Cape Cod Bay where they found cleared fields and plentiful running water and named the site Plymouth.

The expedition returned to Provincetown, and on December 21 the Mayflower came to anchor in Plymouth harbor. Just after Christmas, the pilgrims began work on dwellings that would shelter them through their difficult first winter in America.

In the first year of settlement, half the colonists died of disease. In 1621, the health and economic condition of the colonists improved, and that autumn Governor William Bradford invited neighboring Indians to Plymouth to celebrate the bounty of that year’s harvest season. Plymouth soon secured treaties with most local Indian tribes, and the economy steadily grew, and more colonists were attracted to the settlement. By the mid 1640s, Plymouth’s population numbered 3,000 people, but by then the settlement had been overshadowed by the larger Massachusetts Bay Colony to the north, settled by Puritans in 1629.

The term “Pilgrim” was not used to describe the Plymouth colonists until the early 19th century and was derived from a manuscript in which Governor Bradford spoke of the “saints” who left Holland as “pilgrimes.” The orator Daniel Webster spoke of “Pilgrim Fathers” at a bicentennial celebration of Plymouth’s founding in 1820, and thereafter the term entered common usage.”

Submitted by Jayne G.


Billericay Twinning Association celebrates anniversary by visiting Mayflower replica September 11, 2013

Filed under: Billericay — billericabillericay @ 7:51 pm

From shed to sea. Mayflower replica will mark 400 years since voyage

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Monday, September 02, 2013

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By Rachael Hook

THE Billericay Twinning Association celebrated its 15th birthday by visiting a project to build a replica of the iconic ship which has made the town famous.Members of the association visited Harwich recently for a tour of the Mayflower Project – a scheme to construct a 109ft long replica of the vessel that carried the Pilgrim Fathers to America nearly 400 years ago.

  1. Feature on the Building of the Mayflower in Harwich with the Twinning Association from Billericay, Essex

The modern day Mayflower is being built in a converted train shed in the North Essex port and, once it is completed in two years’ time, it will sail to the US to commemorate the original vessel’s voyage to the New World in 1620.

The iconic ship’s history is closed linked to that of Billericay.

The Pilgrim Fathers, a group of 120 pilgrims, are said to have met in the town.

Furthermore, four people from Billericay were on board the vessel including Christopher Martin, a merchant who travelled as ship’s governor.

He and his wife Marie, along with Solomon Prowe and John Langemore perished shortly after their arrival at Cape Cod, in modern day Massachusetts.

However this did not deter other Billericay residents from setting sail for the New World and the town of Billericay was established in 1655 to commemorate the origins of some of the first settlers.

Many place names and groups in the town reflect the connection of the Mayflower to Billericay, including Mayflower High School, Mayflower Taxis, the Mayflower Morris men and Mayflower Hall.

Sunnymede School’s houses were called Mayflower, Pilgrim, Chantry and Martin, after Christopher Martin.

It is believed that the Mayflower was built around 1590, possibly in Harwich, and, by the time she was chartered by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1620, she was already an elderly vessel.

The ship had traded to the Baltic in summer for timber and to France in winter for wine.

The Mayflower was captained by Christopher Jones of Harwich who was her master between 1609 and 1622 and he sailed the pilgrims to America in 1620.

The Harwich Mayflower Project was established in 2009 and it achieved charitable status in 2010.

The project now has 14 full-time staff, eight of whom are apprentices, split between marine engineering, construction and business administration.

Thomas Kemp, 18, of Harwich, is one of the apprentices working on the project.

He works in the neighbouring railway station, next to the train shed where the project is based, in a converted room which was renovated by the apprentices themselves.

He said: “There’s always something new to learn here – when people ask me what I do it’s great to say I build boats.”

The oak for the ship is now being delivered and about half the required volume is on site along with most of the necessary equipment.

The replica will be made up of 45 frames in total and they will form the skeleton of the boat.

When the ship arrives in America it will be docked at either Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, or Plymouth, Massachusetts.

It will cost £150,000 to join the voyage but Tom Daly, chair of the board of trustees of the project, warned that the exciting excursion may have its drawbacks.

“People may find that they are sea sick for the whole journey as the boat will rock back and forth,” he said.

The dentist, who lives in Harwich, added: “It was a huge amount of work just to get the building ready for the construction and now we are training people and getting hold of resources. We are very excited about the project.”

Around 30 members of The Billericay Twinning Association enjoyed the tour of the premises on August 21.

Group member Janet Warren, 73, from Western Road, Billericay, is a part time volunteer at the Cater Museum in High Street.

She said: “I am interested in the Mayflower and Billericay was where they met before leaving on the voyage and it’s great to see this project.”

Meanwhile, Joan Phillips, 84, of Mill Road, Billericay, said: “I didn’t know what to expect – I think it’s great. “We will come back as a group to see it launch. I have been to Billerica, the twin town in the States, and I have an interest in the history.”

The design of the ship was completed in stages by an accredited naval architect with the initial plan published in 2011.

The initial cost of the vessel was estimated at £3.4 million but through using apprenticeship schemes and through charitable donations this cost has dropped to £2.2 million.

As a charity the Harwich Mayflower Project is looking for support either in terms of financial gifts or general assistance building upon local interest and international reputation.

For more information, visit or call 01255 318023

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War of Roses – 1485, August 22 August 24, 2013

Filed under: Billericay,History,Miscellaneous — billericabillericay @ 11:13 am
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Actually, seems the long and short of it is that two branches of the royal house of Plantagenet, Lancaster and York, fought in a series of dynastic wars competing for the thrown.  There Heraldic badges symbols  were roses associated with, Lancaster – white and York – red.  Several episodes between 1455 and 1485 were fought – and resulted in social and financial troubles.  The victory went to a remote Lancastrian, Henry Tudor.  The House of Tudor ruled England and Wales from August 22, 1485 until March 24, 1603.  What happened was Henry of Bolingbroke had established the House of Lancaster on the throne in 1399, when he died his cousin Richard II was crowned as Henry IV.  Then, Bolingbroke’s son Henry V maintained the family’s hold on the crown, but when Henry V dies in 1422, his heir was the infant Henry VI.  The Lancastrian claim to the throne descended from John of Gaunt, 1st Duke of York, who could claim descent from Edward’s second and fourth surviving sons, Lionel of Antwerp and Edmund of Langley, 1st Duke of York..  He held several important offices of state and quarreled with prominent Lancastrians at court and with Henry VI’s queen, Margaret Anjou.  So basically was a big dispute as to who had claim to the thrown after the death of King Henry V and the first formal battle occurred in 1455 at the Battle of St. Albans between supporters of York and Lancaster.   Very interesting read.

1.   Wars of the Roses – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Submitted by Karen E.


August 21, 1998 – Billerica – Billericay Twinning Charter Signed August 22, 2013

Filed under: Uncategorized — billericabillericay @ 11:04 am


Billerica Twinning Group

Fifteen years ago on August 21, 1998 the official Twinning Charter was signed by Hazel Morley, Chairman of the Billericay Mayflower Twinning Association (BMTA) and then Billerica Board of Selectmen  Chairman Ed Hurd recognizing the sister town relationship between Billerica MA and Billericay ,Essex UK.

Since 2002 the Billerica Twinning Group (BTG) has acted as host to members of the BMTA and other guests from Billericay.  Our friends from across the pond were Grand Marshals in Billerica’s annual Yankee Doodle Homecoming parade that same year.

Over the years, in addition to tours of Billerica, they have also been shown Boston, Salem, Lexington, Concord and other historic town as well as one of their favorite pastimes – SHOPPING and more SHOPPING.

In 2005 a group of 18 members of the BMTA came to celebrate the 350th Anniversary of Billerica.  In recognition of this special celebration 350 roses were planted in Billericay and a Yankee Doodle mountain laurel was planted here in Billerica in the rear of the library, both with markers commemorating this historic occasion.  Members of the BTG also opened up their homes to the group for a special progressive dinner, much to the delight of our friends from Billericay.

Members of the BTG have visited Billericay on several occasions, enjoying the hospitality of our sister town and its many places of historic interest.  And, just as here in Billerica, so does there exist a rivalry between Billericay and Chelmsford, its next door neighbor.  Many other similarities between our towns abound as well.

Mementoes of these visits are on display at the Library and Town Hall along with the personal gifts that have been exchanged between members of both groups and those who have made them feel welcome.
These visits have created a bond between the two towns forged by history and culture.

To celebrate the 15th Anniversary of the Twinning the BTG hosted an English tea in June at the First Parish Church in Billerica center, attended by over 100 people.  While those inside were enjoying their freshly brewed tea, there were performances by the Red Herring Morris dancers on the lawn of the Billerica Public library.     Morris dancing is a pastime by men and women alike in jolly old England.  One of our Billericay friends is a Mayflower Morris Men (as distinguished from Mayflower Morris Dancers who are women)

The BTG also created a 2013 calendar with photos depicting scenes from Billerica and Billericay and historic dates from both countries.  Expanded information on these are being posted throughout the year in the BillericaBillericay blog.


Twinning plaque carved by Peter Benson of Billericay on display at the Billerica Public Library

At the beginning of August members of the BTG and friends gathered at the British Beer Company to “have one for our friends across the pond” in celebration of this year’s anniversary.  On the 21st our English friends will be visiting the Mayflower Project ( One of the goals of this project is to recreate a working replica of the Pilgrim Father vessel.  Perhaps we can make a stop there on our next trip to England.

The BTG is currently in the process of  petitioning the Billerica Board of Selectmen to name the  road between the Library and Masonic Lodge “Billericay Way” as a permanent tribute to our friends in England.  Be sure to tune into the August 26th Selectmen’s meeting where it will be on the agenda.

Other trips to England and activities are being discussed.  Keep tuned for more info on this and other information about the group.

If you are interested in being part of this international exchange contact secretary Joan Pomerleau at   New faces and new ideas are always welcome.

  Submitted by Joan Po. and Joan Pa.


Bunker Hill Day August 14, 2013


The Battle of Bunker Hill an early American Revolution Battle between Colonial American and British Troops, was fought on June 17, 1775. This bloody battle ended in victory for the British troops although their casualties were more than double the Colonial troop casualties. Asa Pollard of North Billerica was the first Colonial soldier killed at the Battle of Bunker Hill. Today, upon Bunker Hill stands a 221 foot granite obelisk built between 1827-1843 commemorating the Battle. Recently I climbed all 294 steps of the Bunker Hill Monument. This was an exhausting climb but the views from the top were great! The Bunker Hill Monument is a stop on the Boston Freedom Trail.  My daughter, Meg and I made this trip to Charlestown for the blog I write for the Lowell Sun newspaper. For more pics – 

Boston facing side of the monumentInside-base-of-MonumentBunker-HIll-Monument



August 2, 1943 – PT 109 sinks August 12, 2013

Filed under: Billerica,History,Miscellaneous,Uncategorized — billericabillericay @ 3:23 pm

There are many stories written about this piece of history, including a book “PT109: John F Kennedy in World War II” by Robert Donovan from which a 1963 biographical war film “PT109” was created as well as a screenplay by Robert L Breen in which Cliff Robertson played Kennedy.
The stories about his back injuries and the pain he endured for his adult life all went back to the incredible story of the PT109, its crew including US Navy Junior Grade John F Kennedy. 
According to the Smithsonian website, “According to the official Navy report, written shortly after the event by Lt. j.g. Byron White (the future Supreme Court justice), 14 PT boats—three-engine wooden vessels armed with two .50-caliber machine guns and torpedoes—left their Rendova Island base at 6:30 p.m. on August 1, 1943, with the mission of intercepting Japanese ships in the Blackett Strait. The group divided into four squadrons, with PT-109 patrolling near Makuti Island.”   And the rest is history  –
The boat had been lost at sea but in 2002 National Geographic released an article that remains of the boat had been found.
The curiosity continues…..learn more about this and other topics on our 35th President at his library’s website or visit the library in person at the John F Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum at Columbia Point in Boston. 

Submitted by Joan Pa.