Falmouth has a new harbour master.

Captain Duncan Paul has taken over the helm of the port from Mark Sansom, who retires at the end of the year.

Captain Paul has been promoted from deputy harbour master and assumes the marine safety responsibilities for Falmouth harbour.

Falmouth Harbour Commissioners decided to split the roles of harbour master and chief executive following the announcement from Captain Sansom that he intends to retire this year.

Captain Paul joined Falmouth Harbour Commissioners in 2010 as assistant harbour master and has performed a number of marine safety roles for the organisation, including Pilot Services general manager and deputy harbour master.

Captain Sansom will continue as chief executive for the time being and hand over to a newly appointed replacement later in the year.

Speaking of the appointment, Captain Sansom said: “Following a decision by the Board of Commissioners to split the roles of harbour master and chief executive, we are delighted to promote Duncan Paul to the role of Falmouth harbour master.

"Duncan has demonstrated all the qualities required to make a success of this appointment during his long service with the organisation and I am certain that he will do a fine job for us.

"The role of harbour master is a unique one and I am delighted to be able to pass it over to someone who shares my passion for this extraordinary harbour. I am very much looking forward to working alongside Duncan in his new capacity”.

Duncan served as master on a variety of vessels trading worldwide, spent periods as operations manager for the Ministry of Defence Salvage and Moorings Organisation and was security manager for an international shipping company.

This year FHC celebrates its 150th anniversary – 1870 proved to be a turning point in the port's history, when the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners came into being on September 5 of that year.

Local shipping agent Robert Richard Broad was appointed the first chairman of the commissioners. Under the Falmouth Harbour Order, 1870, the commissioners had the responsibility to administer Falmouth Bay, Carrick Roads, Cross Roads, and the inner harbour, excluding the area immediately surrounding the docks, and the Penryn River as far as Boyer's Cellars.

A total of 16 commissioners were appointed representing the following organisations: Trinity House, Admiralty, Board of Trade, Borough of Falmouth, Falmouth Docks, Parish of Falmouth, Rt. Hon. Earl of Kimberley and registered ship owners of the port.

The development of Falmouth Docks attracted a great deal of shipping. New regulations and bye-laws to collect harbour dues and license boatmen were gradually introduced as the Commissioners tackled the job of running the port.

Advertisements for the position of harbour master at a salary of £150 were published in the Shipping Gazette and other local papers.

Captain Richard Sherris was appointed harbour master on September 19, 1870.

The first five men employed by the Commissioners all had the same Christian name – William Henry Worsdel, William Henry Rule, William John Barbery, William May, William Thomas Hall and William Andrew were all sworn in as special constables along with the harbour master.