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A close-up photo of the spines of six Harbour Masters Journals. The books are numbered from 23 to 28.

A wonderful resource of maritime matters

The museum’s research work is led by the Bartlett Maritime Research Centre which incorporates the Bartlett Library and the Peter and Julie Newall Library, a wonderful resource of books, archives and records on maritime matters. It houses a team of volunteers who answer enquiries for members of the public and who work on a range of research projects.

The main themes are:

Research facilities

Private researchers are very welcome to explore the library or to seek answers to specific questions with the help of one of our volunteers.

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

The collection

The Bartlett holds some 18,000 volumes on our open shelves, having grown by gift and purchase, from the core collection of 6,000 volumes, generously donated by our benefactor J. V. Bartlett Esq., in 2003.

Significant loans from the Cornwall Library Service (including a number of Lloyd’s Registers), together with gifts from many individuals have greatly increased the size and value of the collection since our establishment in 2003, supplemented by the Peter and Julie Newall Library in 2018.

Access the Library catalogue

The collection comprises:

Maritime Reference Section
Covering everything from supertankers to sailing dinghies, it includes an extensive run of Lloyd’s Registers from 1764, to near current editions; a good run of Mercantile Navy Lists, 1850s to 1960s; Lloyd’s Lists, the British maritime newspaper (facsimile editions, or microfilm copies), 1741 to 1859. Our books cover such diverse subjects as Shipping Companies, British and foreign; Yacht cruising; Fishing and Fisheries; a selection of Naval material;  Maritime Art and Artists; Navigation; Exploration; etc.

Archives, Periodicals, Magazines and Journals
A comprehensive range of Falmouth harbour archives, has been deposited with the Bartlett, by the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners – including Harbour Commissioners, and Harbour Committee minute books; Dredging ledgers; Harbour Masters Journals, 1870s to 1970s. These are held in the Haddon Room. These archives are supplemented by an extensive range of Falmouth Harbour pilotage material, and G. C. Fox & Co.’s Falmouth Arrivals ledgers.

The Haddon Room, also holds runs of yachting magazines and maritime journals – including Yachts & Yachting, Motor Boat & Yachting, Yachting World, Mariner’s Mirror; Maritime South West, Ships in Focus, a representative number of the Nautical Magazines, and Lifeboat Journals, all of which embrace many elements of maritime enterprise from boating for pleasure to academic research.

Archive material

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

Other digital material

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

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 five days a week (Tuesday – Saturday). Personal visitors should ask for directions at the Museum’s admission desk.

Opening times

The Bartlett Maritime Research Centre and Library is open Tuesday – Saturday, 10am – 5pm.

*Please note, The Bartlett Maritime Research Centre and Library will be closed on Wednesday May 29.

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 opening hours. You can also email us at 

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 Bartlett Library

The library houses a diverse collection of maritime reference books, periodicals and archive material for public consultation and reference, admission free.

The resources in the library contain information on many types of boat and their construction and usage, and help to provide deeper knowledge and understanding of our maritime heritage and the maritime heritage of Cornwall.

The core of the library collection was donated by J. V. Bartlett Esq, whose interest in all types of maritime craft prompted him to start a library collection in 1945. Since this time this collection has grown to include around 19,000 maritime reference books.

Access the Library catalogue

The Book Collection

The library’s core collection falls within three main categories.

Conserving the books

Many of the books are rare or original. Specialist cleaning and conservation work is carried out by a dedicated team of Heritage volunteers from the Falmouth Decorative and Fine Arts Society.

The Bartlett Blog

The Bartlett Blog is written and produced by the volunteers who staff The Bartlett Maritime Research Centre & Library. The blog publishes insightful articles each month on a range of topics. You can view the blog here.

Useful resources

You might also find some of the websites listed below useful. We often visit them when looking into research enquiries.

Cornwall based


Contact the library and research centre team

Telephone: 01326 214579 during opening hours.


Uncovering family history

The research of Bartlett Maritime Research Centre & Library volunteers regularly uncovers fascinating stories. One recent example reunited a set of a Cornish pilot’s Second World War ‘Wings’ with surviving members of his family.

A photo of Paul Dowman receiving the wallet from Simon Turner in the Bartlett Maritime Research Centre and Library of National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

Paul Dowman, here on the left, receiving the wallet from Simon Turner in the Bartlett Maritime Research Centre and Library of National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

National Maritime
Museum Cornwall Trust
Discovery Quay
Falmouth Cornwall
TR11 3QY

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See our opening hours

Tel: +44(0)1326 313388

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National Maritime Museum
Cornwall Trust
Discovery Quay
TR11 3QY

Tel: +44(0)1326 313388