The Bartlett Library

The Bartlett Library houses a diverse collection of maritime reference books, periodicals and archive material for public consultation and reference, admission free.

The Library holds some 19,000 volumes on our open shelves, having grown by gift and purchase, from the core collection of 6,000 volumes, generously donated by our benefactor J. V. Bartlett Esq., in 2003. His interest in all types of maritime craft prompted him to start a library collection in 1945.

Significant loans from the Cornwall Library Service (including a number of Lloyd’s Registers), together with gifts from many individuals have greatly increased the size and value of the collection since our establishment in 2003, supplemented by the Peter and Julie Newall Library in 2018.

The library’s core collection falls within three main categories.

  • Boats; with a special emphasis on material relating to the museum’s boats – the National Small Boat Collection.
  • The Maritime Reference section
  • Periodicals, Magazines & Journals

Access the Library catalogue

Maritime Reference Section
Covering everything from supertankers to sailing dinghies, it includes an extensive run of Lloyd’s Registers from 1764, to near current editions; a good run of Mercantile Navy Lists, 1850s to 1960s; Lloyd’s Lists, the British maritime newspaper (facsimile editions, or microfilm copies), 1841 to 1859. Our books cover such diverse subjects as Shipping Companies, British and foreign; Yacht cruising; Fishing and Fisheries; a selection of Naval material;  Maritime Art and Artists; Navigation; Exploration; and a wide range of books covering such diverse topics as fishing boats, shipping company histories and aircraft carriers. While the library does not specifically focus on naval history, it does hold a representative selection of books on naval subjects.

Periodicals, Magazines and Journals
Embracing many elements of maritime enterprise from boating for pleasure to pure academic research. The Haddon Room, holds runs of yachting magazines and maritime journals – including Yachts & Yachting, Motor Boat & Yachting, Yachting World, Mariner’s Mirror; Maritime South West, Ships in Focus, a representative number of the Nautical Magazines, and Lifeboat Journals, all of which embrace many elements of maritime enterprise from boating for pleasure to academic research.

Archive material

The Library also holds a growing collection of original archive material including:

A comprehensive range of Falmouth harbour archives, has been deposited with the Bartlett Library, some by the Falmouth Harbour Commissioners. These include:

  • Harbour Commissioners, and Harbour Committee minute books
  • Dredging ledgers
  • Harbour Masters Journals, 1870’s to 2003
  • Fox’s Falmouth Arrivals, 1880 to 1997 [lacking a few years, but containing unique information on international vessels trading with Falmouth and more significantly, those arriving at Falmouth for ‘orders’]
  • Falmouth & District Pilot Boat Association records [which give an added dimension to both of the foregoing sources]

The Library also manages and researches the Museum’s Plans and archives of leading boat designers and builders including those of Alan Buchanan, Jack Holt, Curtis and Pape and Chipperfield.

Conserving the books
Many of the books are rare or original. Specialist cleaning and conservation work is carried out by a dedicated team of Heritage volunteers from the Falmouth Decorative and Fine Arts Society.