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In Conversation With: Falmouth Uncovered

For our new series at The Greenbank, we caught up with history buff  Will of Falmouth Uncovered to find out about all things Cornish history and to learn more about his widely-praised Falmouth walking tours.

What is Falmouth Uncovered?

Falmouth Uncovered is a historical walking tour. I like to think its purpose is to convince people that Falmouth is the most interesting, wonderful place in the world. Through the tour, I tell the story of how Falmouth went from being a small town to a major maritime location recognised all around the world. The tour focuses on storytelling that connects people to what Falmouth used to be. I try not to overload tourists with facts and dates — I’d rather leave people feeling excited and passionate.

How did Falmouth Uncovered come about?

I have a local history website and early on, I wrote a blog about Falmouth. A few days after writing it, I had the thought it’s strange that there isn’t a walking history tour here. During the middle of the pandemic, I started talking to a friend about it. We both came to the conclusion that I should do the tour. To me this made perfect sense as I have previous acting experience and a huge passion for history.  I’ve thoroughly enjoyed having the opportunity to speak about Falmouth’s amazing history.

What does the tour cover?

The Age of Sail. Before steam power and before mechanisation was the golden era of Falmouth. The way the English Channel works is that the wind is often blowing the wrong way. So, if you arrive in your boat, and you want to get to London, it might be the wind is blowing down the channel in a way that’ll stop you. It may not be convenient at those times to go further up country. But because Falmouth sits here perfectly in the West, it was somewhere where ships could call in and make landfall. When wind and sails were the way things worked, Falmouth was geographically in the perfect position. It had this period, in which it was a really, really important place – far more important economically than it is today.

When did you become Interested in Falmouth’s history?

My interest in history is a very constant thing. Not to delve into it too much, but it helps create psychological security for me – knowing the history of the place I live in makes me feel safe. There’s something powerful about the sense of continuity — how Falmouth keeps evolving and I’m part of the story.

What is Falmouth Uncovered’s biggest achievement to date?

I think my biggest achievement is having nothing but 5 star ratings on TripAdvisor. It’s a clean sheet and I’m really proud of that. Being able to do this as a full-time job is amazing too – it gives me a lot of confidence that I can do what I love and that I’m good enough at it to make it my livelihood. People taking notice of my solo venture is always a nice thing to see — news outlets and businesses such as yourself wanting to support me in what I do is such a good feeling.

What is something that surprises people when they’re on the tour?

Tourists assume it’s this ancient town, infamous since the 1600s and although this is the case – the number of passers-by for centuries and the current population of art students have really brought the town into current times. It was once said that the harbour was packed so full of ships that you’d be able to walk from The Greenbank over to Flushing without your toes touching the water. Although that’s probably nonsense. The vast amount of culture brought in from all around the world made Falmouth a hub of modern ideas.

What do you think makes Falmouth so special?

Historically, I think the way that Falmouth went from nothing to being globally significant meant that societally it didn’t have any baggage or traditions. It was entirely defined by the flow of people, the flow of ideas. It’s always been tolerant; you could arrive here from far away and find a home. I think the way it has this almost new world, American style, with modernism and openness. This makes the history of Falmouth very interesting.

Why do you think it’s important to support independent businesses in Cornwall?

Cornwall is independent businesses. When you think of Cornwall, you think of independent businesses.  People make Cornwall special. And I think for me, if you want to go on holiday to Cornwall, and feel like you’ve seen the region, you need to try to experience things the way the Cornish do. Cornwall contains such a wonderful tapestry of people. By connecting with independent businesses visitors can get an understand of Cornish life and support the people that make this place what it is.

Have you got any exciting plans coming up for Falmouth Uncovered?

I’m currently working on a ghost tour of Penryn. Also I have been doing a lot of research lately, so that will definitely be coming soon. I’m looking forward to the weather getting nicer and being able to get back to touring a lot more frequently.

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