“ Address: Discovery Quay / Falmouth / Cornwall / TR11 3QY / Telephone: 44 (0) 1326 313388 „
The National Maritime Museum in Falmouth is the little brother of the museum in Greenwich. Situated in the centre of Falmouth on the quay, across the opposite the cruise berth, in a new development of shops and restaurants. There is no parking at the centre, although the shopping centre has a small car park but is fairly expensive. Falmouth has a park and ride and park and float just outside the town centre.
The museum is open daily from 10am to 5pm. Admission costs £8.75 for adults and £6 for children. If you Park and Float you get 10% discount on your entry. Also if you gift aid your admission fee, you can use your ticket for up to a year.
When you get in you walk into the main gallery with several yachts and boats on display. Some are at ground level and others hanging from the ceiling. There are lifeboats, dinghies, some just iconic designs, and some famous boats including Ben Ainslie's Olympic dinghy. There are three floors round the ends and side of the building, the river end, has exhibits and displays, including a Nav Station with interactive displays for kids. Below the Nav Station is the Quarterdeck, with lots of model ship and yacht displays. Also up that end of the museum looking over the harbour is the Look Out Tower, which goes right up two levels up with a full panoramic view over Falmouth harbour and any cruise ships in port at the moment. There are displays, maps, and interactive computers you can use, but we never got chance to use any of them as it was a small space full of people. Much more interesting for us, was right the way at the bottom of the tower, which goes two levels below ground level under the ocean floor where there is a viewing gallery through two glass windows, where you can see the tides come in and go out, and there are fish in the river you can see as well. The glass could have done with a clean outside! Both of these in the tower have lift access.
On the other side of the building, the ground floor has the entrance and gift shop on the ground floor, above that it has a cafe with riverside views. Also on that floor is the Cornwall galleries which gives an amazing insight into Falmouth's packet ships that used to go all over the world from Falmouth. And also displays about modern sailors that have started and ended their record breaking voyages in Falmouth, including Ellen MacArthur and Robin KnoxJohnston.
Overall you do get alot of displays and exhibits for your money, but it doesn't seem to take that long to get round the whole museum. I do think it's good value for money, I have got an interest in yachting and studied it at university so perhaps I'm slightly biased and I never knew anything about Falmouth's history of the Packet Ships before I went in the museum.
As a local resident of Falmouth the maritime is a familiar site for all. Over the last 5 years i have been round the museum a sum total of 3 times purely for the exhibits. I have found it to be off-putting initially due to the cost compared to the size of the museum (adults £8.75 and children £6.00). If you have an interest in boats though it is well worth a rainy day visit as it is open 10am until 5pm every day except Christmas day and Boxing Day.
It has a large collection of boats, either unusual, significant or of specific local interest as well is the underwater tower/ observatory tower and a few activities for the kids. There are a number interactive displays which allow you to test your marine navigation knowledge and rowing skills. For those with an academic interest in the maritime environment the Bartlett library is free with admission and has a large collection of texts. The maritime museum also has a lecture theatre with a regular programme of lectures which can be attended for a reduced price.
In regards to facilities there is a fairly large restaurant which provides a high standard of food as well as a large shop. I would say that i feel the size of the place means that exhibitions are not frequently changed therefore it discourages my returning frequently despite the fact a free annual pass is now handed out with each ticket. The maritime does however have smaller exhibits that change more frequently and children's activities during holiday times.
Whilst we were in Cornwall on holiday a few weeks ago we visited the National Maritime Museum in Falmouth.
We decided to use the park and float at Falmouth, which we actually really enjoyed. It cost £10.00 for a family of four and we went to the museum by bus which was interesting through the little streets and then we came back by boat. It means you park on the outskirts of Falmouth and don't have to find parking spaces and you get a boat ride as well which we all really enjoyed. With the ticket we also had a discount at the Maritime Museum - wether they do that all the time I don't know.
At the musuem we paid using club card vouchers (days out ones) it's a great way to go and see these type of places. It would've cost about £26 for a family of four.
It was an interesting place, our girls liked it aged 9 and 6 but I can't say they were enthralled! neither was I. Although for a day out indoors away from the weather it was very good. I know that sounds contradictory but I'm just being honest it was a kind of yes it's interesting and passes the time but not a wow! place!
The things we did enjoy there were the lookout tower which looks over the harbour. The girls enjoyed that but were a little bored after a few minutes, I could've stayed and watched the comings and goings of the harbour for a while! It also has interesting information about the boats in the harbour.
There is a weather part at the museum, which looked very interesting and was interactive, unfortunately it was a little beyond me and not easy to understand, some of the interactive stuff wasn't working and the girls to be honest really weren't interested in this.
There was a cafe although we didn't use it, it looked clean and nice, if a little pricey.
On the ground level were two types of life boat that the children could play in, the girls had great fun in there and could have stayed all day I reckon!! they thorough enjoyed pretending to rescue people from the sea and putting on the life jackets!
Also on the ground level is a boat lake (not huge!), it costs 50p to have a go, you get a token and put it in the machine and away you go - or not as the case maybe, you have to learn how to use sails and the wind which blows out from the side of the lake. The girls throughly enjoyed that although needed a little help from us to steer! It was great fun for them.
The best bit of the museum I felt was the 'under the sea viewing area', it's only small which supprised me, but actually it's quite good, you go down some steps underground and there are two narrow but huge windows which look out to the harbour so you're basically looking into the sea. However beware you need to go when the tide is at lease high or half way in or out, if you go at low tide you see nothing!! as you are standing there if the tide is coming in very slowly you notice that the water level has crept up the window. There is a fish feeding machine outside up above which automatically feeds the fish so you can see them swimming around. You can also see shrimps. We all really enjoyed this bit even though we were there very close to low tide, I can imagine when the tide is full in it's amazing.
All in all we had a good day and probably could've spent a little longer there than we had time for.
National Maritime Museum, Discovery Quay, Falmouth Cornwall is open daily 10 till 5 according to the Cornwall 07 Guide www.theguide-cornwall.com leaflet that we picked up whilst in Cornwall. Open 7 days a week except Christmas Day and Boxing Day, according to King Harry's Cornwall 2007 Guidebook www.kingharryscornwall.co.uk. This book also told me about Park and Ride or Park and Float options, between May and September, which have discounted entry fees to the museum.
Price to get in was £7.50 per adult, which is valid for 12 months from issue date if signed. Children, concessions and families may differ. We did not get charged for baby Mark so children under a certain age do not pay.
For more details: Tel 01326 313388 or website www.nmmc.co.uk. Please note that I have not checked this website out.
How to get there:
300 metres from train station - follow brown signs.
By road, follow signs from A39 Falmouth. There is a short stay car park nearby (has Tesco Express adjacent to it) and longer stay car parks nearby. We were in the short stay car park and it was very convenient, and cost no more than £2 or £3 for 3 hours.
When we first entered the museum, a guide explained where everything was and what was available - Richard mistook her for a person who was going to give us a guided tour, as she spoke at length about what facilities were where and gave advice on what to see or do. There is a ramp taking you past Cornish model and full-scale boats, but this area was very dark and I struggled to see properly as my reaction glasses were changing from sunglasses to ordinary glasses. If you wear this type of glasses, I recommend that you stand at the bottom and allow time for your glasses to adjust - which I did not do.
We did not experience any on the day we went but apparently on a regular basis they have talks or films in an afternoon or evening, which may cost £3.50 per person for the films, but most items are included in the ticket price. Half term activities are also often available - unsure if included in price, as not half term when we went.
The museum is located in Falmouth's harbour with plenty of hands on attractions. It included a display of crazy items and people who adventured on the sea, including a bathtub, which was rowed across the English Channel! At one place there is a boat workshop where you can see them making or mending a boat and also see them being built or restored in another workshop via webcam, which Richard, my boyfriend's best mate, found fascinating.
There is a gallery named Falmouth Gallery, which incorporates an old curiosity shop with displays of the weird and wonderful items brought back from around the world. Look out for the 2-headed pickled pig!
This museum has apparently got Europe's only natural underwater tidal zone. This tidal zone, with underwater viewing of low, medium and high tide was of most interest to my boyfriend Robert and his mate Richard. For kids, there was a board explaining what you might see and you could move pictures of what you did see from the sides of the board onto the picture of the sea. An explanation of what each animal or fish was listed on the board too. It was very educational but fun, too. Either a spiral staircase or the lookout tower lift accesses this area.
The lookout tower has a decent but small lift, which comfortably held 4 adults and a 3wheeler pushchair. The doors open either side, depending on the floor that you are trying to enter. The tower, which we visited first from the lift, had breathtaking views over the Harbour, where you can glimpse Pendennis Castle (English Heritage) on the horizon to your right, if you have the lift behind you. Binoculars were available, although not sure if a cost was involved, and a guide to ask, if you want to know more.
There was a café on the 2nd floor (accessible by 1 larger lift or the lookout tower lift then a ramp), this had windows looking out over the harbour and was very clean and had pleasant staff. We bought 2 hot drinks, 2 snacks (flapjack and cake) for £4.50, and they provided Michelle, Richard's girlfriend, with hot water in a metal jug to warm the baby's bottle. I cannot comment on the toilet facilities as I did not use them myself but Michelle stated that they were clean and that the baby changing facilities on this floor were of a high standard of cleanliness and had all the right equipment.
Robert and Richard really enjoyed the radio-controlled sailing boats on the ground floor. You put 50p in a token machine (per boat), then chose a boat from 7 or 8 options (2 or 4 sails and all different colours), pop your token in and away you sail around the course. Watch out for islands, according to Robert they jump out and hit your boat or bite! My only gripe about this area was that there was not enough seating. Michelle, baby Mark and I sat on the only seat and didn't get very good views. It was well lit and there was another guide there to assist with problems, ask advice, who seemed to be there to prevent the theft of the boats. Richard said that there was no point stealing the boat, as you could not use it without the controller, which was attached to the side of the boating lake. I suppose some might want to try to put them on display, but they were quite big to hide!!!!!!!!!
We spent several hours in this facility and went back in later that day to see the difference in the tidal zone area, and for Robert and Richard to have yet another play on the model boats.
If you like boats, or need somewhere undercover due to inclement weather, this museum is good value, especially if you are able to visit again during the year, as they have different displays on throughout the year, according to their leaflets.
I would imagine if Mark had been older, he would have really enjoyed this as there were the boats to play with, the binoculars to use, various areas had boards to move items about or try things out. I noticed that one area you could try your hand at creating knots!
Great interactive museum - shame it is so far away and we probably won't get chance to revisit within the year.
Learn about the small boats and Cornish maritime history.