Over the years many books have been written about the maritime history of Falmouth. Local historian and yachtsman David Wilson has spent several years researching all aspects of our interesting port for his latest publication writes David Barnicoat.
Launched this month “Maritime History of Falmouth. The Port, its Shipping and Pilotage Service” is an extremely interesting and captivating book.
This book is about the development of the town, its harbour, and its shipping. It is also testimony to the people who spent their working lives around the Fal estuary and along the sometimes hazardous coast of west Cornwall.
David navigates the reader with ease from the early days of Falmouth when Lord Burley first commissioned a map of the haven in 1585 through the build up of maritime trade right up to Falmouth Docks being established.
He has examined pilotage and parish records in immense detail, giving a fascinating insight into the Pilotage service with many new stories not published before.
David tells about the rivalry between the St Mawes and Falmouth pilots – the Class system of licensing and the family involvement in owning the sailing pilot cutters.
Pilotage, as I know only too well, has always been a dangerous occupation. In 1838 the paddle steamer Soho embarked her pilot in the harbour to sail to sea. Tied up alongside was the boarding punt with pilot Samuel Lowry and crewman Richard Warren who were going to assist the pilot when he left the ship.
Soho steamed so fast that Lowry and Warren were thrown into the water when the punt capsized. They were later landed at St Mawes unharmed from their ordeal.
David tells us about other incidents that lead to fatalities amongst the pilotage fraternity including the sad story of pilots George Bickford and William Richards who drowned in the harbour in 1842. Bickford left a wife and five children, Richards a wife and four children.
Other chapters tell of the infamous coastline between here and the Lizard, of shipwrecks in the Manacles and the involvement of well know shipping agents GC Fox and Broad and sons who dominated shipping in west Cornwall.
This book comes highly recommended and a must for any maritime historian or descendants from the St Mawes and Falmouth pilotage families. Priced at £19.99 it is available from local booksellers.