Falmouth Cornwall from Beacon Hill antique print 1863. Original page from ‘The Illustrated London News’ published on 5th. September in 1863.
The following is the text of a blog published on 5th September 2019.
On this day, 5th. September in 1863 The Illustrated London News published today’s antique print from the collection of Frontispiece Ltd of Canary Wharf.
Printed above the caption “General View of Falmouth from Beacon Hill. The key to the image identified Penryn Creek; River Fal; St. Mawe’s Castle and Creek; Docks and Breakwater; St. Anthony’s Lighthouse; Railway Station; and Pendennis Castle.
Celebrating the arrival of the Truro to Falmouth line of the Cornwall Railway Company the ILN explained “The distance from the Truro station to the terminus at Falmouth is eleven miles and a half, within which space the railway is carried over eight viaducts and through two tunnels.”
Describing Falmouth the ILN remarked, “in regard to its efficiency as a port, it is second to none in the kingdom, and in beauty inferior only to the Bay of Naples.”
From 1689 until 1851 the Falmouth Packet Service carried mail to the far flung reaches of the British Empire and the Royal Navy stationed two squardrons of warships in the sheltered harbour for quick access to the English Channel.
However, although the third largest natural deep water harbour in the world, its distance from any large towns, and the presence of a large rock at the entrance, resulted in it not being developed as a commercial dock until 1858 when the ‘dock and breakwater’ referred to in the key to our image was constructed.
In less than a decade, the railway had arrived and Falmouth was liberated from its isolation, fast becoming a destination for a new class of person, the tourist or holidaymaker.
Today Falmouth markets itself as “the spirit of the sea” and has become a popular holiday spot and tourist resort, whilst retaining its position as the largest port in Cornwall thanks to its railway connection.