The Museum’s Collections consist of a range of objects, boats, art, books and archives in support of its mission to promote an understanding of small boats and their place in people’s lives, and of the maritime Heritage of Cornwall. We are currently working towards making a full catalogue of our collections accessible online.

The National Small Boat Collection was originally developed by the National Maritime Museum at Greenwich. This is now housed in Cornwall where it has been extended by the addition of other craft. This collection is representative of boats from the UK and around the world. A maximum of length overall of 30ft (14.2m) is set for the collection although there are exceptions. A collection of objects and archives support the National Small Boat Collection.

Much of the Cornish Maritime Collection came from the former Cornwall Maritime Museum in Falmouth. It contains objects, pictures, models and archives relating to the history of Cornwall and the sea, and Falmouth in particular.

An important element of this collection is the material relating to the Falmouth Packet Ships which includes six watercolours by Maltese artist Cammillieri.

Reserve Collections

The Museum has a large collection of objects, boats and archives. The majority of the collection is held in store.

If you would like to make an appointment to view objects which are not on display, please download and print an appointments form. Once completed please post to the Collections Curator at the address below, outlining the type(s) of objects you would like to view.

The Collections Curator will contact you to discuss the objects and arrange an appointment.

National Maritime Museum Cornwall
Discovery Quay
TR11 3QY

Rowing dinghy Pip Emma built by F.C. Morgan Giles

Pip Emma is a small rowing dinghy built by the famous boat builder/designer F.C. Morgan Giles whilst on leave from the RNVR in 1916. Its very light construction is due to the lack of materials during wartime, for example the stern is made out of an old mahogany table. The boat was originally built for … Continued

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Thames Rowing Dinghy Katharine Louise

Small dinghies became fashionable on the Thames after the First World War. Compared to the traditional gigs and skiffs associated with Edwardian river outings, dinghies were lighter, handier, and easier to build. Also, at a time when there were very few professional boatmen employed, they were more easily maintained by their owners, many of whom … Continued

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Gremlin dinghy

Conceived by the then well-known dinghy designer Percy Blandford the Gremlin was, in the words of the magazine Light craft which marketed the plans, “designed primarily for the man who wants a boat but has very little money, time and space to devote to the project.  The boat can be lifted singlehanded and comfortably by … Continued

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The Flying Duchess – in a canoe

The origins of this image can be traced back to 1811 when the 6th Duke of Bedford commissioned the building of a fishing lodge and romantic gardens on one of the prettiest stretches of the River Tamar. By the late 19th century the estate, Endsleigh, had come into the possession of the 11th Duke and … Continued

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International Tempest – Tempestuous

When Ian Proctor designed the Tempest it was clear from the outset that he was aiming at a breakthrough. The initial object, along with his eleven rivals, was to win the trials with the fastest boat which could be produced within the IYRU limits. More than that, he wanted a boat that would be well … Continued

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Kuwaiti Tishaala Dhow, Tala

Small boats tend to be shaped by the lives of those who make and use them. so around the world vessels built for the same purpose differ greatly, due to the availability of materials and tools, traditional techniques and the unique local environments in which the boats are used. This Kuwaiti Tishaala Dow, Tala, is … Continued

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Percy Blandford – a centenarian boat designer and builder

“There is a tremendous satisfaction to be had from boating, and many possible ways of going afloat, …(there is) something special in adventure and romance and particularly the satisfaction of being skipper of your own craft. That often misquoted bit by Water Rat about there being nothing half as much fun as simply messing about … Continued

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Jack Holt 1912 – 1995 – A boat designer for the people

Jack Holt was one of the boating world’s most prolific and influential designers. In a career spanning more than 60 years his designs fostered an explosion of home and professionally built craft, making it possible for people who previously found sailing unaffordable to get on the water. John Lapworth Holt was born the son of … Continued

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Peter Milne – designer of the International Fireball dinghy

Peter Milne, who died in 2008 aged 73, was one of Britain’s most versatile designers of small boats. Milne was born in Stockport, Cheshire, on September 20 1934, the son of an engineer. It was near Chichester that he learned to sail and was influenced his father Cecil’s interest in making things. His first boat, … Continued

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