A wonderful resource of maritime matters
The museum’s research work is led by the Bartlett Maritime Research Centre which incorporates the Bartlett 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:
- Cornwall maritime history
- British and international shipping
- The history of boats
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:
- 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
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.
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), 1841 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, 1870’s 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.
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 2003]
- 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.
Tuesday to Saturday 10am to 5pm. Closed SUNDAY & MONDAY.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.
The Book Collection
The library’s core collection falls within three main categories.
- Boats; with a special emphasis on material relating to the museum’s boats – the National Small Boat Collection.
- The Maritime Reference section; which includes an extensive run of Lloyd’s Registers of Shipping and similar publications from 1788 to date, a comprehensive run of Mercantile Navy Lists from the 1860’s, fully supported by a wide range of books covering such diverse topics as fishing boats, shipping company histories and aircraft carriers. While the library does not specifically focus on naval history, it does hold a representative selection of books on naval subjects.
- Periodicals, Magazines & Journals; embracing many elements of maritime enterprise from boating for pleasure to pure academic research.
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.
You might also find some of the websites listed below useful. We often visit them when looking into research enquiries.
- The Cornwall Studies Library – for further information about Cornwall www.cornwall.gov.uk
- South West Maritime History Society – for additional information on the maritime history of the south west of England www.swmaritime.org.uk
- 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 www.southampton.gov.uk/libraries
The Morrab Library
Cornwall Family History Society
Cornwall Records Office – written & printed heritage of Cornwall
Cornish Studies Library – written & printed heritage of Cornwall
The Courtney Library
Falmouth Harbour Commissioners
British Postal Museum & Archive – Falmouth Packet Service
Crew List Project – access to the records of British merchant seafarers of the late 19th century
Dark Age Boats – Log boats, coracles, curraghs
Family & naval history – WW2 diaries
Find My Past – Merchant Navy seamen 1835-1941
National Archives (Naval) – service records of naval ratings
P&O Heritage – ship search and family history research
Passenger lists 1890-1929 – passenger lists from ships sailing to destinations worldwide
University of Exeter – database of references to records with maritime & naval significance that are held in local record offices & other archives across England & Wales
University of Exeter (RASOR) – British naval & maritime history bibliography
Yachting Bibliography – the first (& only) interactive bibliography of British yachting
Contact the library and research centre team
Telephone: 01326 214579 during opening hours.