A fundraising bid has been launched to illuminate some of Rotherhithe’s most historic buildings ahead of the 400th anniversary of the sailing of the Mayflower in 2020.

The project – led by Clare Armstrong, of Rotherhithe, along with friend Sheila Taylor, of Bermondsey – would illuminate six historic Rotherhithe buildings, including the spire of St Mary’s Church and the chimney of the Brunel Museum, making them visible from the Thames from up to several miles away.

The crowdfunding drive is to undertake a £33,000 feasibility study into the proposal, which involves highly specialised lighting engineering work.

Once installed, the lighting could be in place for up to 40 years – putting an often neglected bit of Rotherhithe history on the map.

The fundraiser states: “This lighting scheme will serve as a permanent reminder – to current and future generations – of Rotherhithe’s heritage and identity as the Mayflower’s home port.”

Clare, who first came up with the idea, told the News: “It’s a wonderful opportunity, it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity.”

Sheila added: “It’s a lovely idea, and it’s a long term legacy for the area.

“I thought it was such a beautiful idea, so I just wanted to help Clare with it.”

One hundred and nine people have backed the project to date raising £3,945 – with support even coming from as far away as Germany.

The project has received backing from the Illuminated River Foundation, in partnership with the Rothschild Foundation, Team London Bridge, and the Ship pub.

All three Rotherhithe ward councillors have also pledged their support for the lighting project, Clare added.

The pair have applied for the funding through Crowdfund London, a £1m fund run by Mayor of London Sadiq Khan for creative local projects. Pledges of up to £50,000 will be announced from the fund from mid-to-late October, with the successful campaigns attending a special event at City Hall.

Sheila Tayor (left) and Clare Armstrong (right) say the project would be a long-term legacy for the area

Sheila explained: “Sadiq Khan has a pot of money and they run workshops to help local residents who’ve got projects they can’t get funding for through the usual means.

“They ran a couple of workshops about it that we went to and they were really helpful – they had staff there from an organisation called SpaceHive, which is the crowdfunding firm the Mayor partners with.”

Clare added: “They were really enthusiastic about our project!

“It’s ready-to-go basically, we’ve got the professionals on-board and they did indicate that they thought it was a great project.”

The pair hope that if they raise the money needed for the feasibility study, they could unlock other sources of funding for the installation of the lighting.

The cost of the installation would be around £100,000, it is estimated.

The illuminations could also include hi-tech QR codes, which would allow visitors to the area to scan the illustrations with their phones, to learn about the historical significance of the buildings.

Other historic buildings included in the proposal include the cranes on the side of the Sands Films studio and the signage of the Mayflower pub.

The Mayflower – which set sail to America in 1620 – first set off from Rotherhithe and many of its crew members were born and raised in the area, including captain and part-owner, Christopher Jones.

The fundraiser can be found on the Spacehive website here.

The full list of proposed illuminations:

  • The Brunel Museum
  • The Sands Building – three cranes on the side
  • St Mary Rotherhithe Free School – school pupil figurines on the outside
  • The Mayflower Pub
  • St Mary’s Church
  • The Thames Tunnel Mills chimney
  • Courtyard, looking out onto the Thames