Maritime Research Centre

The Museum’s research work is led by the Bartlett Maritime Research Centre which incorporates the Bartlett Library.

The main themes are:

  • Cornwall maritime history;
  • British and international shipping;
  • The history of boats

Research facilities:
Private researchers are very welcome to explore the Bartlett Library or to seek answers to specific questions with the help of one of our volunteers.

Finding aids:
A range of finding aids for researchers are constantly being developed and updated. With around 40 databases, these cover subjects such as:

  • Vessels built in Cornwall between 1776 and 1914
  • The Falmouth Packet Service, its ships, commanders and routes
  • Mentions of Cornish ships and wrecks in Lloyds Lists
  • Shipping arrivals and departures in Falmouth
  • Vessels and cargos in and around the Fal
  • An index to yachting and related magazines
  • An index to ship pictures in books and other publications
  • Obituaries of notable maritime people

We have also compiled a list of useful websites which we commonly recommend to researchers and this can be found on our Research from Home website page.

A number of our databases are available online, including

These can all be found in the Databases section of this website.

Archive material
The Bartlett Centre holds a growing collection of original archive material including:

  • Fox’s Falmouth Arrivals, 1880 to 1997 [lacking a few years, but containing unique information on international vessels trading with Falmouth and more significantly, those arriving at Falmouth for ‘orders’]
  • Falmouth Harbourmaster’s Journals from 1880 to 19.. [which support the above]
  • and Falmouth & District Pilot Boat Association records [which give an added dimension to both of the foregoing sources]
  • Plans and archives of leading boat designers and builders including those of Alan Buchanan and Jack Holt

Other digital material

We are also growing our digital material, much of it transcribed from original documents:

  • The early C20 British Yachts and Yachtsmen publication
  • The Journal of James Williamson, a Packet Surgeon of the early C19
  • The Journal of Captain Henry Rogers RN, a C19 captain
  • Photographs relating to maritime history

Some of these are available online in our Maritime Views on-line publication.

Visiting the Bartlett Centre
The Bartlett Centre is open free to the public. Personal visitors should ask for directions at the Museum’s enquiry desk in the entrance foyer.

Opening times
Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. Closed SUNDAY & MONDAY.

Research enquiries
The team of dedicated volunteers are pleased to try and answer any maritime queries. Brief enquiries can be answered by telephone on 01326 214579 during advertised opening hours. A voice-mail service is on-line out of hours, and may be operating during busy periods. You can always email us at 

Postal enquiries should be addressed to Bartlett Research Centre Enquiries, National Maritime Museum Cornwall, Discovery Quay, Falmouth, Cornwall TR11 3QY

Please note: within the expertise of the volunteers on duty, enquiries are dealt with in strict order of receipt. We normally respond to queries within three to four weeks of receipt.


  • The Cornwall Studies Library – for further information about Cornwall
  • South West Maritime History Society – for additional information on the maritime history of the south west of England
  • Southampton City Library, archive and information services Maritime Collection, holding completed sets of Mercantile Navy Lists, and Lloyd’s Registers of Shipping, as well as records of the Board of Trade enquiries into wrecks