The Port of Falmouth lies on the western shores of the Carrick Roads, a waterway created as an ancient valley flooded after the Ice Age and formed a natural harbor from Falmouth to Truro in the southwestern reaches of the United Kingdom. The old Port of Falmouth faces the inner harbor, but the newer areas of Falmouth overlook Falmouth Bay off the English Channel. The harbor is the world’s third deepest natural harbor.
The area’s comfortable climate, large harbor, and beautiful beaches make the Port of Falmouth a popular vacation resort and center for yachting. The city’s docks are an important part of the local economy despite the decline in its maritime activity. One of Cornwall’s biggest ports, the Port of Falmouth is a busy cargo-handling port of call and a popular destination for cruise ship operators. In 2001, over 21 thousand people lived in the Port of Falmouth.
In 1540, King Henry VIII built Pendennis Castle on the site of the Port of Falmouth to defend Carrick Roads when the main town was called Penryn. In 1613, Sir John Kilgrew created the town of Falmouth. Anticipating the Spanish Armada in the 16th Century, castle fortifications were strengthened. It was almost the last fortification to surrender to the Parliamentary Army during England’s Civil War.
Carrying mail from to and from the British Empire’s holdings, the Falmouth Packet Service operated from 1689 to 1851. Located on a natural harbor sheltered harbor in far southwest England, it was often the first stop for ships of the Royal Navy. The schooner Pickle landed here in 1839 with news of the British victory at Trafalgar and Admiral Nelson’s death. Charles Darwin arrived at the Port of Falmouth on the HMS Beagle in 1836 at the end of his famous voyage around the world.
In 1858, construction of the docks at the Port of Falmouth was begun. When the Cornwall Railway arrived in 1863, it brought many tourists and a new era of prosperity to the city. Today, there are three rail stations in the Port of Falmouth, and the original terminus, the Falmouth Docks railway station, is near both Pendennis Castle and the popular Gyllyngvase beach.
German bombs killed 31 people in the Port of Falmouth during World War II. To keep enemies from the harbor, an anti-submarine net stretched from St. Mawes to Pendennis. The legendary commando raid on St. Nazaire was launched from the Port of Falmouth.
Today, the Port of Falmouth is a popular tourist destination and resort. With five beautiful beaches, a rich history, quaint Georgian townhouses turned into guest cottages or hotels, and a 100-berth yacht haven, the Port of Falmouth is a popular spot for boating and water sports. In 1965, yachtsman Robert Manry sailed from Falmouth, Massachusetts, to the Port of Falmouth in his 13-1/2 foot Tinkerbelle, the smallest boat to make that crossing to that time. In 1998, the Tall Ships’ Race began here, with 90 tall ships setting sail for Lisbon, Portugal.