Cornwall's world famous deep water harbour

Web: www.falmouth.co.uk
Web: www.visitcornwall.com/destinations/falmouth

Falmouth Town Council


As the third largest, and one of the deepest, natural harbours in the world, Falmouth has always had a dominating nautical theme, as has its now quieter neighbour Penryn. Countless sailing events are held every year and in 1998 the town hosted the start of the Cutty Sark Tall Ships Race, one of the many maritime happenings which formed the World Water-sports Festival in Cornwall. It is also famous for being the start or finish point of various round-the-world record-breaking voyages, such as those of Sir Francis Chichester and Dame Ellen MacArthur. The town sits eleven miles south of Truro and at the terminus of the A39 road. The population of the town was 21,385 in the 2011 census.

Falmouth sits at the mouth of Carrick Roads, a haven for sailors and pleasure boaters, and the harbour is constantly teeming with water-sports enthusiasts. In the mouth of the estuary midway between Pendennis Point and St. Antony is Black Rock, upon which Trinity House built a granite cone supporting an iron post topped by a ball to a height of 36 feet as a marker for shipping.

With its source in the heart of Cornwall, near Indian Queens, the River Fal flows south past the villages of St. Stephen, Grampound and Tregony, and is joined by the Truro River and the Tresillian River, before running into Carrick Roads.

In 1582 there were nearly 2000 seafaring men fishing in Cornwall, many of them in the Falmouth area, and the fish trade was improving fast. The first parts of the harbour started to developed and boats came from London to collect cured pilchards.

The Fox Family were very influential in the development of the town in the 19th century and many of them were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).

Falmouth has come along way since 1600 when it only consisted of two houses, a smithy and an alehouse, but when Sir Walter Raleigh stayed with Sir John Killigrew at Arwenack House built in 1550, he was so impressed with its geographical features that he recommended that the site should be developed as a port. Sir John gained Parliamentary approval to develop the site and within a few years the village started to grow. Originally known as Smithwick or Smithick it later became known as Pen-y-come-quick ("the head of the narrow vale"). In 1660 a Royal proclamation changed the name to Falmouth. For nearly 300 years Falmouth remained one of the principle ports of the world, where during the mid 1800's it was not an uncommon site to see 350 ocean-going sailing ships at anchor in the "Carrick Roads" at any one time.


As Falmouth developed during the 17th century, the oldest building that it can boast is the Elizabethan manor of the Killigrew family at Arwenack House. However, much of this was destroyed during the Civil War, and what remained was incorporated into the replacement building built in 1786. The parish church of King Charles the Martyr was built between 1662-64, while off the main streets some of the original 17th and 18th century cottages may still be seen.

On the nearby headland of Pendennis Point stands the imposing Pendennis Castle, built between 1539-64 by King Henry VIII as a defence against the French. During the Civil War the castle was held for the Crown by the 80 year old Colonel John Arundell of Trerice, who defended it during a six month siege in 1646. So impressed were the Parliamentarian besiegers with the courage of the Royalist forces, that when they finally surrendered in August 1646, they allowed the 24 officers and 900 men to march out of the castle with full military honours - bearing their weapons and banners flying.

The Trafalgar Way is the name given to the historic route used to carry dispatches with the news of the Battle of Trafalgar and Nelson's death overland from Falmouth to the Admiralty in London. The first messenger was Lieutenant Lapenotiere, of HMS 'Pickle', who reached Falmouth on the 4th November 1805. On 2nd October 1836 HMS 'Beagle' anchored at Falmouth at the end of its famous survey voyage around the world. That evening, Charles Darwin left the ship and took the Mail coach to his family home at Shrewsbury. The ship stayed a few days and Captain Robert Fitzroy visited the Fox family at nearby Penjerrick Gardens.

In 1839 Falmouth was the scene of a gold dust robbery when £47,600 worth of gold dust from Brazil was stolen on arrival at the port.

Falmouth boom time came in 1688, when it was appointed as the Royal Mail packet station. This was a key strategic role, carrying mail and messages to and from the far flung reaches of the expanding British Empire. The ships were usually lightly-armed and relied on speed for their security, with the captains able to also carry bullion, private goods and passengers. Ancillary trades attracted by the packet business, particularly ship repair, enabled the port to survive and grow after it lost the contract in 1851. Falmouth Docks, founded in 1860, today handles ships of up to 90,000 tonnes and has a worldwide reputation for yacht-building. In 1810 men of the packet service at Falmouth mutinied over pay levels. Previously, the sailors had been authorized to trade for their own account. When this was banned as smuggling, they objected to the resulting loss of income.

Today Falmouth offers the tourist a variety of facilities including all the usual shops you would expect, along with places to eat and drink. For the cultured there is the Falmouth College of Arts Gallery, the National Maritime Museum and Falmouth Art Gallery, as well as the Princess Pavilion. Also, Falmouth makes an ideal location for exploring the south western coast of the county.

Near the town centre is Kimberley Park. The land pre-dates 1877, and is named after the Earl of Kimberley who leased the park land to the borough of Falmouth. Today the park boasts a beautiful array of exotic and ornate plants and trees.

Falmouth is the terminus of the A39, part of which is called the Atlantic Highway, and begins some 200 miles away in Bath.

One of Cornwall's iconic boat trips, the St. Mawes Ferry makes the crossing from Falmouth harbour to St. Mawes 364 days a year. The ferry takes 139,000 passengers on 2.8 mile journey every year, saving them what would be a 29 mile journey.

The Cornwall Railway reached Falmouth on 24th August 1863. The railway brought new prosperity to Falmouth, as it made it easy for tourists to reach the town. It also allowed the swift transport of the goods recently disembarked from the ships in the port. The town is still served by a 12 mile branch railway line from Truro and has three stations. The original 1863 station is now known as Falmouth Docks station, since the opening of the new Falmouth station (originally called "The Dell") nearer the town centre on the 7th December 1970. The Penmere railway station opened on 1st July 1925 serves the northern part of Falmouth.

During World War II, 31 people were killed in Falmouth by German bombing. It was also the launching point for the famous British Commando raid on St. Nazaire in March 1942. An anti-submarine net was laid from Pendennis to St. Mawes, to prevent enemy U-boats entering the harbour.

Situated in the port of Falmouth, the lifeboat station has operated for nearly 140 years. The station has both an all weather Severn class lifeboat and an inshore B class lifeboat. The crews have been presented with 19 awards for gallantry.

Falmouth Golf Club welcomes all visitors and societies to its 18 hole golf course which winds its way along Cornish cliff tops with stunning views across Falmouth Bay.

The local leisure centre is in Castle Drive, TR11 4NG.

The town's Tourist Information Centre is at 11 Market Strand, Prince of Wales Pier, TR11 3DF.

On the 14th June 1968 Robin Knox-Johnston left Falmouth in his 32-foot boat 'Suhaili', one of the smallest boats to enter the Sunday Times Golden Globe Race and became the first person to sail solo, 30,000 miles around the globe, non-stop.

On April 30th, 2012 the Falmouth Beach Hotel was devastated by a fire which broke out on the third floor, which caused the roof to collapse and made significant damage to the building.

Art Galleries

Beside the Wave Gallery

Falmouth Art Gallery

Falmouth College of Arts Gallery

North55 Gallery

The Great Atlantic Falmouth Gallery

The John Dyer Gallery

The Porthole Gallery

Whistlefish Gallery


Potteries in Falmouth

Notable Residents

Show Detail

Early times to 1780

Sir Robert Killigrew (1580 – 1633) English courtier and politician, MP between 1601 and 1629. He served as Ambassador to the United Provinces. He was a knight of Arwenack House.

Thomas Corker (c.1640 in Falmouth - 1700) was a prominent English agent for the Royal African Company and worked in the Sherbro Island Sierra Leone.

Sir William Trelawny, 6th Baronet (c.1722 – 1772), British politician and colonial administrator, MP for West Looe from 1757 to 1767, then Governor of Jamaica.

John Laurance (1750 in Falmouth – 1810) American lawyer and politician from New York.

Eleazer Oswald (1750 in Falmouth – 1795) Journalist and soldier in British America and the American War of Independence.

Philip Melvill (1762 – 1811) philanthropist, founded Falmouth Misericordia Society 1807.

Josiah Fox (1763 in Falmouth – 1847) British naval architect, involved in the design and construction of the original six frigates of the United States Navy.

John Phillp, artist at the Soho Mint, (1778 Falmouth – 1815 Birmingham).

Richard Thomas, (1779 – 1858) English civil engineer.

1780 to 1810

Robert Were Fox the Younger FRS (1789 in Falmouth – 1877) British geologist, natural philosopher and inventor, worked on the temperature of the earth and a compass to measure magnetic dip at sea.

Alfred Fox, (1794 in Falmouth – 1874) owner and developer of Glendurgan Garden, now a National Trust property, and was a member of the Quaker Fox family of Falmouth.

Mary Lloyd or Mary Hornchurch (1795 in Falmouth – 1865) British joint secretary of the first Ladies Anti-Slavery Society.

Charles Fox (1797 in Falmouth – 1878), a Quaker scientist, developed Trebah garden near Mawnan Smith, part of the influential Fox family of Falmouth.

The Reverend Henry Melvill (1798 in Pendennis Castle – 1871) priest in the Church of England, principal of the East India Company College from 1844 to 1858 and Canon of St. Paul's Cathedral.

Sibella Elizabeth Miles (1800 in Falmouth – 1882), was an English schoolteacher, poet and writer of the 19th century.

John Sterling (1806 – 1844), Scottish author, moved to Falmouth in 1841.

Edwin Octavius Tregelles (1806 in Falmouth – 1886) was an English ironmaster, civil engineer and Quaker minister.

William Lobb (1809 – 1864) Cornish plant collector, employed by Veitch Nurseries of Exeter, introduced into England Araucaria araucana (the monkey-puzzle tree) from Chile.

Lovell Squire (1809 – 1892) Quaker schoolteacher, meteorologist and writer of sacred verse. In 1834 he developed a Quaker boarding school in Ashfield which ran from 1839 to 1849.

1810 to 1850

Samuel Prideaux Tregelles (1813 in Falmouth – 1875) English biblical scholar, textual critic, and theologian.

Nicholas Pocock (1814 in Falmouth – 1897) English academic and cleric, known as an historical writer.

Anna Maria Fox (1816 in Falmouth – 1897) promoted Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society, from Fox family of Falmouth.

Robert Barclay Fox (1817 – 1855) businessman, gardener and diarist, from the influential Quaker Fox family of Falmouth.

Robert Kemp Philip (1819 in Falmouth – 1882) was an English journalist, author and Chartist.

Caroline Fox (1819 in Falmouth – 1871) Cornish diarist, member of the influential Fox family of Falmouth.

Henry George Raverty (1825 in Falmouth – 1906) was a British Indian Army officer and linguist, he studied Afghan poetry.

Charles Hartley (1825 in Falmouth –1897) founded Palmerston North, New Zealand.

Elizabeth Philip (1827 in Falmouth – 1885) English singer, music educator and composer.

William Odgers VC (1834 in Falmouth – 1873) Royal Navy sailor, recipient of the Victoria Cross in the First Taranaki War.

Howard Fox (1836 in Falmouth – 1922) shipping agent and consul, member of the influential Fox family of Falmouth.

Edwin Welch (1838 in Falmouth – 1916) English naval cadet, surveyor, photographer, newspaper proprietor and journalist.

John Andrewartha (1839 in Falmouth – 1916) Cornish-born American architect and civil engineer.

Charles Napier Hemy RA (1841 – 1917 in Falmouth) British painter of marine paintings, moved to Falmouth in 1881.

Susan Elizabeth Gay (1845 - 1918 in Crill, Budock) chronicler of Falmouth in a book called Old Falmouth published in 1903.

1850 to 1910

Henry Scott Tuke RA RWS (1858 in Falmouth – 1929), English visual artist, primarily a painter, but also a photographer.

John Charles Williams (1861 – 1939) English Liberal Unionist politician, gardener at Caerhays Castle, where he grew and bred rhododendrons, MP for Truro 1892 to 1895, High Sheriff of Cornwall 1888 and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall 1918 to 1936.

John Sydney Hicks (1864 in Falmouth – 1931) British physician and surgeon. He lived in Australia from 1891 to 1912, and was a member of the Western Australian Legislative Assembly.

Charles Masson Fox (1866 in Falmouth – 1935) Cornish businessman, prominent in chess problems and has his place in the gay history of Edwardian England.

Robert Barclay Fox (1873 – 1934) Falmouth businessman and Conservative politician, inherited Penjerrick Garden.

Joseph Conrad, (1857 – 1924) Writer, stayed at Falmouth for nine months in 1882 and later recalled his sojourn in a short story titled Youth. Conrad's Youth.

Sir Edward Hoblyn Warren Bolitho KBE CB DSO (1882 – 1969) Cornish landowner and politician. He was Chairman of Cornwall County Council 1941 to 1952 and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall 1936 to 1962.

Frank Harold Hayman (1894 – 1966) British Labour Party politician, MP for Falmouth 1950 to 1966.

Howard Spring (1889 - 1965) Writer, lived in Falmouth from 1947 onwards.

Sir John Carew Pole, 12th Baronet (1902 – 1993) landowner, soldier, politician and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall 1962 to 1977.

Colonel James Power Carne VC, DSO (1906 in Falmouth – 1986) Army officer, Korean War recipient of the Victoria Cross.

Lieutenant Commander Robert Peverell Hichens DSO* DSC** RNVR (1909 – 1943) most highly decorated officer of the Royal Navy Volunteer Reserve (RNVR) lived in Bodrennick House at Flushing.

Hugh St Clair Stewart MBE (1910 in Falmouth – 2011) British film editor and producer, filmed Bergen-Belsen concentration camp following its liberation in April 1945.

1910 to present

William John Burley (1914 in Falmouth - 2002) British crime writer whose work includes the Wycliffe detective series.

John Anthony Miller aka Peter Pook (1918 in Falmouth – 1978) British author of humorous novels.

George Boscawen, 9th Viscount Falmouth (born 1919) Cornish peer and landowner, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall from 1977 to 1994.

William D Watson (born 1930) bow maker who worked for W.E. Hill & Sons, lived in Falmouth.

William David Mudd, (born 1933 in Falmouth), British politician, Conservative MP for Falmouth and Camborne from 1970 until 1992.

Rex Thomas Vinson (1935 in Falmouth - 2000) Art teacher, artist and science fiction author, wrote as Vincent King.

Lady Mary Christina Holborow, DCVO (born 1936) daughter of Earl of Courtown, Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall 1994 to 2004.

Caroline Bammel (1940 in Falmouth - 1995) British ecclesiastical historian.

Jon Mark (born 1943 in Falmouth) singer-songwriter, recorded with Marianne Faithfull, John Mayall and Mark-Almond.

Penelope Shuttle (born 1947) British poet, lived in Falmouth since 1970, founded the Falmouth Poetry Group in 1972.

Sebastian Newbold Coe, Baron Coe, CH, KBE, FRIBA (born 1956), referred to as Seb Coe, British politician and former track and field athlete. Won four Olympic medals at the 1980 and 1984 Summer Olympics. MP for Falmouth and Camborne from 1992 to 1997. Elected president of the International Association of Athletics Federations in 2015.

Paul Martin (born 1959) antiques dealer, professional drummer, presents BBC antiques programmes including Flog It!, attended Falmouth Grammar School.

Zapoppin' (formed 2007 in Falmouth) are an alternative folk and skiffle band, noted by Clash (magazine) for their "black humour and obtuse lyrical themes".

Simon Grant (1980-) Television presenter and actor in 'Shrek' born in Falmouth.


Edward Jackett, known as John Jackett, (1878 in Falmouth – 1935) English rugby union player for British Lions and competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics, brother of Richard Jackett.

James Trick "Jimmy" Jose (1881–1963) was Cornish rugby union player for Plymouth Albion R.F.C. and Falmouth R.F.C., competed in the 1908 Summer Olympics.

Tony Kellow, (1952 in Budock Water - 2011) professional footballer, over 400 appearances mainly for Exeter City FC.

Kevin Miller (born in Falmouth 1969) English retired goalkeeper, played for Barnsley F.C. Exeter City F.C. and Watford.

Matthew Etherington (born 1981 in Truro) footballer played for Falmouth Town under 14's and then for West Ham and Stoke.

Jamie Robert Day (born 1986 in Falmouth) English former footballer who mainly played for Peterborough United F.C., and Rushden & Diamonds F.C.

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Falmouth Town Walk A gentle one and half mile stroll taking in the best of this historic maritime town.

Pendennis Headland Walk A two and a half mile walk around the historic Pendennis Headland where you'll be rewarded with fantastic views across Falmouth Harbour and along the Cornish coast.

The Coastal Footpath This opens up many walks along the coast, travelling eastwards involves using one of the ferries, but heading westwards it is about eleven miles past Swanpool and Maenporth to Helford Passage.


Falmouth New Year's Day Swim - January.

Falmouth Spring Flower Show - March.

Falmouth Folk & Cider Fayre - Early April.

Falmouth River Festival - Late May.

Falmouth Food Festival - End May

Falmouth Classics Regatta - Early June.

The Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival - Mid June.

RNLI Castle to Castle Swim - End June

Falmouth Gin Festival - Mid July.

Flushing Regatta - End July.

Falmouth Week held in mid August has grown into one of the largest sailing regatta's in the south west with yachts racing over seven days. There is also a lively programme of shore-side events.

Falmouth Oyster Festival - Mid October.

Falmouth Beer Festival held at the Princess Pavilion in October.

Falmouth Book Festival - Mid October.

Falmouth Christmas Lights Switch On - Mid November.

Falmouth Christmas Tree Festival - Early December.

Gyllyngvase Beach Christmas Swim


Castle Beach
The most northerly of all the Falmouth beaches, situated alongside Pendennis point. Rocky sections mean that at low tide it is regarded as an excellent beach for rockpooling as well as diving and snorkelling.

Gyllyngvase Beach
One of the most popular beaches in Falmouth, a Blue Flag status beach, with its wide arc of golden sand and inviting sea. Great amenities, with award winning cafe, yet still only a 10 minute walk away from Falmouth town centre.

Swanpool Beach
Delightful cove and beach with adjoining Swanpool Lake Nature Reserve, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Excellent water-sport centre where you can try your hand at dinghy sailing, kayaking or windsurfing. Bouncy castle located on the beach during the summer months for the smaller children.


Cafes in Falmouth


Pubs in Falmouth

Bosvathick House and Garden       Carwinion Garden       Glendurgan Garden       Penjerrick Garden       Potager Garden       Trebah Garden

Falmouth College of Arts Gallery       Stithians Lake Country Park       Falmouth Art Gallery       Princess Pavilion       St. Antony Head

Trenarth Gardens       St. Just in Roseland       St. Mawes       Helford       Helston       Argal Reservoir       Penryn

Cornish Lifeboat Stations       Stithians       Truro       Pendennis Castle       National Maritime Museum       Arwenack House

The Coastal Footpath       Cornwall's Ferrys       Cornwall's Beaches       Flicka Donkey Sanctuary       The Trafalgar Way