Port and resort on the south coast of Cornwall, southwest England, on the estuary of the River Fal, 11 km/7 mi southwest of Truro; population (2001) 21,600. It is a major yachting centre and the marine rescue and coastguard centre for the southwest region. Principal industries include tourism, ship-repair at Pendennis shipyard, and the construction of aluminium buildings and naval architecture.
Aluminium fabrications constructed here include the NatWest Media Centre at Lord's cricket ground, London. Trade through the port is less significant now, with some fish wholesaling and a specialist traffic in exotic plants for public gardens.
Features Falmouth has a temperate climate in which sub-tropical plants flourish. The castles of Pendennis and St Mawes, on opposite sides of the estuary, were built in 1543 to guard the entrance to the natural, deepwater harbour. The town contains the headquarters of the Royal Cornwall Yacht Club and hosts a number of local regattas. From 1998 Falmouth will once again be the starting point for the biennial Cutty Sark International Tall Ships Race. Cultural facilities include the Cornwall Maritime Museum and an art gallery
History Pendennis Castle was captured during the Civil War by the Parliamentarians after a five-month siege. In 1688 Falmouth became a Mail Packet Station, handling mail destined for North America and the West Indies, and it was an important trading port in the 18th century. The Riot Act (1714) was read for the last time to mutinous crews of packet ships docked at Falmouth. The town developed as a resort after the railway opened in 1863.
Until 1938 Falmouth was the anchorage of the Cutty Sark, the last surviving tea clipper, now preserved in dry dock at Greenwich, London.