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Falmouth, Cornwall

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Falmouth, Cornwall httpsuploadwikimediaorgwikipediacommonsthu

22,300 (in 2011) Cornwall - Facts, figures, statistics, demographics, population etc.

12°C, Wind W at 13 km/h, 95% Humidity

Points of interest
Pendennis Castle, National Maritime Museum, Trebah, Glendurgan Garden, The Falmouth Hotel

Falmouth (/ˈfælməθ/ or /ˈfɔːlməθ/ or /ˈfʌlməθ/; Cornish: Aberfala) is a town, civil parish and port on the River Fal on the south coast of Cornwall, England, United Kingdom. It has a total resident population of 27,422.


Map of Falmouth, UK


See also: Miss Susan Gay's Falmouth chronology

The name Falmouth is of English origin. (Present-day Cornish language enthusiasts translate it as Aberfal or Aberfala based on Welsh precedents.) It is claimed that an earlier Celtic name for the place was Peny-cwm-cuic (which translates to English as 'head of the creek') which is the same as the anglicised "Pennycomequick" district in Plymouth.

Early history

Falmouth was where Henry VIII built Pendennis Castle to defend Carrick Roads in 1540. The main town of the district was then at Penryn. Sir John Killigrew created the town of Falmouth shortly after 1613.

In the late 16th century, under threat from the Spanish Armada, the defences at Pendennis were strengthened by the building of angled ramparts. During the Civil War, Pendennis Castle was the second to last fort to surrender to the Parliamentary Army.

After the Civil War, Sir Peter Killigrew received royal patronage when he gave land for the building of the Church of King Charles the Martyr, dedicated to Charles I, "the Martyr".

The seal of Falmouth was blazoned as "An eagle displayed with two heads and on each wing with a tower" (based on the arms of Killigrew). The arms of the borough of Falmouth were "Arg[ent]. a double-headed eagle displayed Sa[ble]. each wing charged with a tower Or. in base issuant from the water barry wavy a rock also Sa. thereon surmounting the tail of the eagle a staff also proper flying therefrom a pennant Gu[les]".

The Falmouth Packet Service operated out of Falmouth for over 160 years between 1689 and 1851. Its purpose was to carry mail to and from Britain's growing empire. As the most south-westerly good harbour in Great Britain, Falmouth was often the first port for returning Royal Navy ships.

19th and 20th centuries

In 1805 news of Britain's victory and Admiral Nelson's death at Trafalgar was landed here from the schooner Pickle and taken to London by stagecoach. On 2 October 1836 HMS Beagle anchored at Falmouth at the end of her noted survey voyage around the world. That evening, Charles Darwin left the ship and took the Mail coach to his family home at The Mount, Shrewsbury. The ship stayed a few days and Captain Robert FitzRoy visited the Fox family at nearby Penjerrick Gardens. Darwin's shipmate Sulivan later made his home in the nearby waterside village of Flushing, then home to many naval officers.

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.

The Falmouth Docks were developed from 1858, and the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI) opened Falmouth Lifeboat Station nearby in 1867. The present building dates from 1993 and also houses Her Majesty's Coastguard. The RNLI operates two lifeboats from Falmouth: Richard Cox Scott, a 17-metre (56 ft) Severn-class all-weather boat, and Eve Park, an Atlantic 75 inshore lifeboat.

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

The Cornwall Railway reached Falmouth on 24 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 now has three railway stations. Falmouth Docks railway station is the original terminus and is close to Pendennis Castle and Gyllyngvase beach. Falmouth Town railway station was opened on 7 December 1970 and is convenient for the National Maritime Museum Cornwall, the waterfront, and town centre. Penmere railway station opened on 1 July 1925 towards the north of Falmouth and within easy walking distance of the top of The Moor. All three stations are served by regular trains from Truro on the Maritime Line. Penmere Station was renovated in the late 1990s, using the original sign and materials.

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

Historic estates

  • Arwenack, the estate which occupied the site before the development of the town of Falmouth, long the seat of the Killigrew family.
  • Governance

    Falmouth Town is a civil parish within Cornwall, formed in 1974 from the historic Falmouth Borough Council. Falmouth received its Order of Charter in 1661.

    As of 2017, it is governed by sixteen councillors (four represent the Boslowick Ward, three each for the Arwenack, Penwerris, Smithick and Trescobeas). Each of them serves a four-year term. The majority of everyday services are provided by Cornwall Council which is a unitary authority governing the entirety of mainland Cornwall. Falmouth elects five councillors to Cornwall Council.

    Economy, industry and tourism

    While Falmouth's maritime activity has much declined from its heyday, the docks are still a major contributor to the town's economy. It is the largest port in Cornwall. Falmouth is still a cargo port and the bunkering of vessels and the transfer of cargoes also keep the port's facilities busy. The port is also popular with cruise ship operators.

    Further up the sheltered reaches of the Fal there are several ships laid up, awaiting sailing orders and/or new owners/charterers.

    Falmouth is a popular holiday destination and it is now primarily a tourist resort. The five main beaches starting next to Pendennis Castle and moving along the coast towards the Helford river are Castle, Tunnel, Gyllyngvase, Swanpool and Maenporth beaches. The National Maritime Museum Cornwall opened in February 2003. The building was designed by the architect M. J. Long.

    The Falmouth & Penryn Packet, first published in 1858, is still based in the town as the lead title in a series of Packet Newspapers for central and western Cornwall.

    The West Briton newspaper, first published in 1810, is a weekly tabloid newspaper which also has a Falmouth & Penryn edition reporting on the area.


    Falmouth has many literary connections. The town was the birthplace of Toad, Mole and Rat: Kenneth Grahame's classic The Wind in the Willows began as a series of letters sent to his son. The first two were written at the Greenbank Hotel whilst Grahame was a guest in May 1907. Reproductions of the letters are currently on display in the hotel. Poldark author Winston Graham knew the town well and set his novel The Forgotten Story (1945) in Falmouth.

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

    Falmouth has the first "Polytechnic": Royal Cornwall Polytechnic Society which went into administration briefly in 2010 but is now a feature of the town with frequent art exhibitions, stage performances and an art house cinema.

    Falmouth is home to many theatre groups, including Falmouth Theatre Company, Falmouth Young Generation and Amity Theatre. Falmouth Theatre Company, also known as FTC, is the oldest local company with performances dating back to 1927.

    The Falmouth Art Gallery is a public gallery with a diverse 19th and 20th century art collection including many notable modern Cornish artists exhibited in four to five seasonal exhibitions a year, as well as a "family friendly and free" community and schools education programme.

    Falmouth has its own community radio station Source fm broadcasting on 96.1 FM and online.

    Falmouth harbour

    Falmouth is famous for its harbour. Together with Carrick Roads, it forms the third deepest natural harbour in the world, and the deepest in Western Europe. It is has been the start or finish point of various round-the-world record-breaking voyages, such as those of Robin Knox-Johnson and Dame Ellen MacArthur.

    During World War II the United States Navy had a large base in Falmouth harbour as well as an army base in the town. Some of the U.S. D-day landings originated from Falmouth harbour and the surrounding rivers and creeks.

    A cargo vessel named the Flying Enterprise that had sailed from Hamburg on 21 December 1951 ran into a storm on the Western Approaches to the English Channel. A crack appeared on her deck and the cargo shifted. A number of vessels went to her aid including the tug Turmoil which was stationed in Falmouth, but they found it impossible to take the Flying Enterprise in tow. The ship was finally taken in tow on 5 January 1952 by the Turmoil when she was some 300 nautical miles (560 km) from Falmouth. It took several days to reach port. On 10 January the tow line parted when the ship was still 41 nautical miles (76 km) from Falmouth. Two other tugs joined the battle to save the ship and cargo, but the Flying Enterprise finally sank later that day. Captain Carlsen and the tug's mate Kenneth Dancy, the only crew members still on board, were picked up by the Turmoil and taken to Falmouth to a hero's welcome.


    Falmouth is a terminus of the A39 road, connecting to Bath, Somerset some 180 miles (290 km) distant.


    Falmouth has three railway stations (described above) at the southern end of an 11 34 miles (19 km) branch line (the Maritime Line) to the county town of Truro.


    There are five primary schools and one secondary school in the town, namely Falmouth School.

    Falmouth University has a campus at the original town site, Woodlane, and another in the Combined Universities in Cornwall campus at Tremough, Penryn, which it shares with the University of Exeter. It offers undergraduate and postgraduate courses chiefly in the fields of Art, Design and Media. The University of Exeter, Cornwall Campus offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses, often with a particular focus on the environment and sustainability, and also hosts the world-renowned Camborne School of Mines (formerly located nearby in Camborne), which specialises in the understanding and management of the Earth's natural processes, resources and the environment.

    Falmouth Marine School, formerly Falmouth Technical College specialises in traditional and modern boat-building, marine engineering, marine environmental science and marine leisure sport. The campus is part of Cornwall College, which is registered through Plymouth Polytechnic. The college acts as a first and second college for sixth form students and for undergraduate students, ranging from City and Guilds, NVQ and HND.

    Sport and recreation

    The town has a football team in the South West Peninsula Premier League, Falmouth Town F.C., who play at Bickland Park in the north-west of the town, and also Falmouth RFC, a rugby union club who play at The Recreation Ground,a site at the top of The Moor.

    Falmouth is also home to one of the county's biggest cricket clubs, where four teams represent the town in the Cornwall Cricket League, with the 1st team playing in the Cornwall Premier League. Falmouth CC play at the Trescobeas ground on Trescobeas Road.

    With its proximity to sheltered and unsheltered waters, Falmouth has long been a popular boating and water sports location. It is, for example, a centre of Cornish pilot gig rowing. Solo yachtsman Robert Manry crossed the Atlantic from Falmouth, Massachusetts (which is named for Falmouth) to Falmouth, Cornwall, from June–August 1965 in the thirteen-and-a-half-foot Tinkerbelle—this was the smallest boat to make the crossing at the time. The town was the location for the 1966, 1982 and 1998 Tall Ships' Race in which approximately ninety Tall Ships set sail for Lisbon, Portugal.

    It also saw total coverage of the total eclipse of the Sun at 11:11 a.m. on 11 August 1999, where this eclipse lasted just over two minutes – the longest duration in the UK.

    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.
  • 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
  • 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 Revd. 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
  • The Fox family of Falmouth were very influential in the development of the town of Falmouth in the 19th century and of the Cornish Industrial Revolution. In the 18th and 19th centuries, many of them were members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers).
  • 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 Philp (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 Philp (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 1892/95, High Sheriff of Cornwall 1888 and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall 1918/36
  • 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 1941/52 and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall 1936/62
  • Frank Harold Hayman (1894 – 1966) British Labour Party politician, MP for Falmouth 1950 to 1966
  • Sir John Carew Pole, 12th Baronet (1902 – 1993) landowner, soldier, politician and Lord Lieutenant of Cornwall 1962/1977
  • 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, Cornwall
  • 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 1977/94
  • William D Watson (born 1930) bow maker who worked for W.E. Hill & Sons, lived in Falmouth
  • David Mudd, (born 2 June 1933), 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 1994/2004
  • 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 1992/97. 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"
  • Sport

  • 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 14s 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.
  • Twinning

    Falmouth is twinned with Douarnenez in Brittany, France and Rotenburg an der Wümme, in Lower Saxony, Germany.


    Falmouth, Cornwall Wikipedia