Port Guide


FALMOUTH AT A GLANCE

Population: 22000 apprx
Location: Latitude 50.15 N
                Longitude 05.06 W
Language: English
Currency: Pounds Sterling (Euros/US Dollars are NOT widely taken)

TOP TIP: Always show your boarding card when visiting local attractions and restaurants. Many places offer a useful discount to cruise ship passengers.

AN INTRODUCTION...

Falmouth, lying on the south coast of the Duchy of Cornwall, is set on the magnificent estuary of the River Fal. The town combines history and culture and is a starting point for many of the stunning, beautiful, historic and scenic sights that Cornwall has to offer.

Cornwall is a pretty county with dramatic cliff scenery along the coast and gentler scenery inland. The sea is never more than 20 miles (32km) away. Many of the houses are fronted in slate, or have slate roofs and granite walls due to the slate quarries in the region. In the
past copper and tin mining were the basis of the economy however many of the mines have now closed and tourism is an important element, along with farming and fishing.

The port has flourished in Falmouth since the early days when Gaulish, Greek and Roman traders visited the shores of England, and particularly Cornwall, in order to trade for tin mined here.  Naturally Falmouth has always been influenced by its relationship with the sea and maritime history, and the sea has shaped the lives of the people living here more than the land. The harbour, together with the Carrick Roads (the stretch of water linking the sea with the harbour), is supposedly the third deepest natural harbour in world after Sydney (Australia) and Rio de Janeiro (Brazil) and is the deepest in Western Europe.

HISTORY ...

The name Falmouth is of English origin and recent Cornish language scholars have translated it to"Aberfal" based on old Cornish precedents.

Falmouth was the site where King Henry VIII built Pendennis Castle to defend the Carrick Roads in 1540. The main town then was Penryn and Sir John Killigrew founded the town of Falmouth shortly after 1613. Under the threat of the Spanish Armada in the late 16th Century the defences at Pendennis were strengthend by the building of angled ramparts. During the Civil War, Pendennis Castle was the second to last fort to surrender to the Parliamentary Army.

Falmouth initially developed and prospered due to its appointment in 1688 as the most westerly Royal Mail Packet Station, resulting in a constant and regular calling of fast sailing ships with the first Falmouth Packet sailing in 1689. it very soon became the premier port in the whole of England.  Falmouth Docks were developed in 1858 and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) opened Falmouth Lifeboat Station nearby in 1867.

The railway - a branch line down from Truro, now known as The Maritime Line - reached Falmouth on 24th August 1863 bringing with it new prosperity. The port waned with the invention of steam powered ships and from the second half of the 19th Century hotels and tourism took hold following the arrival of the railway and Falmouth became primarily a holiday resort.

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

These days Falmouth is a haven for sailing yachts and regattas, in particular Falmouth Week Regatta held annually in August. The harbour is and has been the starting and finishing point for many famous races, one of the most well known ones being Dame Ellen MacArthur's single handed round the world race in 2004/5.

EXPLORING ...

The entrance to Falmouth Harbour is dominated by the mighty Pendennis Castle on the promontory at the western entrance to the Carrick Roads. Its strong imposing ramparts are encircled by a dry moat. A second castle was also  built at St Mawes on the opposite coast of the one mile (1.6km) wide entrance. From the three storey octagonal stone keep of Pendennis Castle there is a spectacular view of the coastline between St. Mawes and St. Anthony's Lighthouse

The town is divided by a low ridge which separates the old town with its waterfront facing northwards up the estuary of the River Fal, known as the Carrick Roads, and the southward facing hotel and residential district. In the Old Town the main square occupying the site of a former marshy creek is known as The Moor.  It is situated at the western end of the long main street running parallel to the harbour whose name changes along its length from High Street, Market Street, Church Street and Arwenack Street.  High Street leads to the former Town Hall, now an antique market, where the last case of cannibalism in England was tried in 1884.

The town's parish church of King Charles the Martyr, founded by King Charles II,  is half way along the main street (known as Church Corner) dates back to 1661 and is dedicated to his father King Charles I, beheaded by Cromwell in January 1649. It is often open for visitors (please ask for opening times when you arrive as they vary throughout the year).

With its imposing Greek Doric columns  the 1820-built Customs House fronts Custom House Quay. Beside it is the King's Pipe, a building where contraband tobacco was burned.  

At the bottom of Killigrew Street (to the left of Lloyds Bank) a flight of 111 stone steps known as Jacobs Ladder rewards the enthusiastic climber with a good view over the town, harbour and bay.

Falmouth is home to the multi award winning National Martime Museum Cornwall which opened in 2003. It has 15 galleries and also houses the National Small Boat collection. It has a magnificent 100ft (30m) lookout tower with amazing water views over the inner harbour and (in 2018) Is running an exciting Titanic Exhibition looking at the disaster from a new perspective.


FURTHER AFIELD ...

South Cornwall is also well known for the sub-tropical gardens of Glendurgan, Trebah and Trelissick and the Lost Gardens of Heligan which are all within relatively easy reach of Falmouth

Visit Lands End, a granite mass tumbling into the sea at the end of the Cornish peninsula. This famous headland at the most westerly point in England has become a popular tourist complex that even has an amusement park

St. Michaels Mount, a castle built on a small tidal island in Mounts Bay, is reached by a man made stone causeway passable between mid-tide and low water from the small town of Marazion. It has been the home of the St Aubyn family since 1650 and the oldest buildings on the mount date back as far as the 12th Century.

The quaint and very picturesque fishing village of St Ives is also well known for its art galleries and is home to the Tate St Ives gallery, which has rotating modern art exhibitions focusing on  British artists.

Lying to the east of St Austell is the spectacular Eden Project. Despite opening as recently as 2001 this massive and unique global garden and botanical project has already achieved world-wide fame.The concept is that the plant world, the conservation of natural habitats and indigenous species and man's dependence on plants for food and medicine can be studied in the context of global bio-diversity.  Two huge enclosed conservatories called biomes recreate, in the smaller one, the warm temperate climate of the Mediterranean basin, Southern Africa and South Western USA, with grape vines, olive trees and vibrant flowers whilst in the larger one is the climate and tropical rain forest of the humid tropics. In the third roofless biome grows the flora of a temperate climate such as Northern Europe and Chile.

SOME PRACTICAL INFORMATION ...

Banking Hours
Banking Hours in Falmouth are usually 09.00h-17.00h Monday to Friday and 09.00h-12.30h on Saturdays. The nearest banks are in the town centre in Market and Church Streets and on The Moor. Many supermarkets also have an ATM machine available for sterling pounds cash withdrawals during opening hours 

Shopping
The main shopping area is in Market & Church Streets. Shopping hours are 09.00h-17.30h Monday to Saturday. Many of the shops also open on Sundays, albeit with slightly shorter hours. Falmouth has a bustling town centre with many high street names. There are also many and varied restaurants, cafes and coffee shops as well as specialist independent shops, professional services, art galleries and music shops.

Transport
Local taxis (metered) are normally available near the ship's berth and in town with the main taxi rank being on the Moor. Buses are also available from the Moor serving many parts of Western Cornwall.
The Martime (Railway) Line connects two of Cornwall's main centres Falmouth and Truro via a 25 minute train journey. Truro has a lovely cobbled shopping area, a three spired Cathedral and is home to the Royal Cornwall Museum.

Tourist Information 
The FalRiver Visitor Tourist Information Centre is located on the Prince of Wales Pier at 11 Market Strand (tel. 01326 313394). The centre is open 7 days a week throughout the season 10.00h-17.00h. It is a great resource for information on the town and surrounding area. Tickets can be purchased here for the various ferries and pleasure boats that ply from the pier. It is also well stocked with books, maps, guides and souvenirs.

Emergency Contact
All emergency services can be reached by dialling 999.

Landing Place
The ship's berth is usually located at County Wharf, which is approx. a 10/15 minutes walk from the start of the town centre. The port authorities always provide a free shuttle bus, which operates continuously during the ship's stay in port.

AND FINALLY - DID YOU KNOW? ...

Falmouth was the birthplace of the much loved Toad, Mole and Ratty, characters in the classic Wind in the Willows series. Kenneth Grahame's popular children's book began as a series of letters to his son. The first two were written at the Greenback Hotel - Falmouth's oldest harbour side hotel - whilst Grahame was a guest in May 1907. Another famous guest at the self same hotel was Florence Nightingale who stayed in there in the early 1900s. The visitors book bearing her signature is still on display, under glass, by the hotel reception desk.

Poldark author Winston Graham knew the town well and in 1945 set his novel The Forgotten Story in Falmouth.

The town has also been the setting for several films and television series. British film star Will Hay was a familiar face in the town during 1935 whilst filming the comedy Windbag the Sailor. The movie had many scenes of the docks, which also featured in the 1948 film Scott of the Antarctic with John Mills.
Robert Newton and Bobby Driscoll were visitors to the town during the shooting of the 1950 Walt Disney classic movie Treasure Island when some scenes were filmed along the River Fal.
Stars from the BBC Television series The Onedin Line stayed in the town during the filming in the late 1970s.
And in 2011 Paramount Pictures filmed parts of the movie World War Z starring Brad Pitt in Falmouth Docks and off the coast.