Seas the Day: 5 Facts About the Falmouth Coast
By Millie Fuller
Falmouth is a beautiful and popular coastal town, where people flock every year for a seaside holiday. However, there is so much more to be enjoyed in Falmouth than fish and chips on the beach!
Here we take a look at some interesting statistics and events that have happened in Falmouth throughout history, that even regular visitors to the area might not be aware of. Many of the sites are still around today and make for great day trips.
Falmouth was the start line and finish line for Ellen MacArthur’s record-breaking attempt to circumnavigate the globe. MacArthur retains the crown for completing the sail solo in the fastest time. She set off on February 7th in 2007, and returned 71 days, 14 hours, 18 minutes, and 33 seconds later, arriving at the Falmouth Quayside to thousands of fans who had travelled from across the country to greet her. In fact, it’s still regarded as one of Britain’s proudest sporting moments.
Waters run deep
The natural harbour at Falmouth is known to be the deepest in Western Europe and the third deepest in the world. Versus the world’s deepest – Sydney Harbour in Australia – measuring 45 metres, it has depths measuring as much as 34 metres.
The harbour at Falmouth is also famous for being home to a large United States naval base during World War Two, and it was the starting point for many of the boats and sailors involved in the D-Day landings.
The gold heist
In 1839, Falmouth was the scene of a famous gold dust robbery. Lewis Casper and his father attempted to steal £47,600 worth of gold dust when it arrived at the port, having set sail from Brazil. Casper worked for a shipping agent firm and heard of the upcoming delivery of gold to Falmouth, after which he began meticulously planning the heist.
The plan involved sending a messenger with forged credentials to sign for the gold upon its arrival, and the fake messenger successfully left with the hoard of gold dust. When the real messenger showed up to the dock to find that the gold was gone, a police hunt began, and the group of criminals were found and arrested. Casper and his team were tried at the Old Bailey in London, with the result being that both Casper and his father were deported to Australia on a convict ship, sentenced to 15 years.
The inspiration for ‘Wind in the Willows’
The classic children’s story is adored by generations, and it actually had its beginnings in Falmouth. The author, Kenneth Grahame, was staying at the Greenbank Hotel in Falmouth in May 1907, and this is where he wrote letters to his son that would inspire the book.
Grahame spent many holidays in Falmouth and was known to hold the town dear to his heart. The Fal Estuary, which the Greenbank Hotel overlooks, is said to have inspired scenes for the Wind in the Willows, where Mole, Rat, and Toad engage in adventures along the river and amongst the woods. The series of letters which inspired the book have been reproduced, and these are now on display at the Greenbank Hotel for visitors to see.
Home to a Tudor castle
The Pendennis Castle was built under the direction of King Henry VIII between 1539 and 1547, when he developed a national defence plan to protect his kingdom. The castle was constructed in a circular shape, in order to be able to defend from every angle. It was seen as a vital part of England’s defence system since the location it occupied would be considered ripe for invasion through the Falmouth Estuary.
Not long after the construction of the castle, in 1613 Sir John Killigrew created a town in the surrounding area. This is what we now know as the flourishing tourism hotspot that is Falmouth. Pendennis Castle is open to visitors, where you can climb the steps to the roof for views of the Atlantic Ocean, or witness WW2 re-enactments.
People have taken trips to the seaside since the 18th century; to this day, it remains dear to our hearts. Its beautiful coastline makes it perfect for holidaymakers and day-trippers alike.
However, it’s the lengthy and colourful history that sets the Falmouth coast apart. From heists to record-breaking feats, discovering more about our past and how it shaped our present is just one more reason on a long list of reasons to take a trip to Falmouth.
Many thanks to Millie Fuller, our guest writer