Three of the NMMC’s exhibits are on the water – and please vote to support the museum

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Andy Wyke onboard Curlew at the NMMC, aileen, pipkin, curlew, nmmc, national maritime museum, cornwall, national maritime museum cornwall, falmouth quay punt, falmouth regatta, catboat, cape cod catboat, yacht racing aileen, pipkin, curlew, nmmc, national maritime museum, cornwall, national maritime museum cornwall, falmouth quay punt, falmouth regatta, catboat, cape cod catboat, yacht racing

Pipkin, Curlew and Aileen

The pontoon at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall is busy again, now that summer is here: after a winter in the museum workshop Curlew, Aileen and Pipkin are all in the water. All three can be seen sailing up and down the river Fal throughout the summer.

Curlew is the oldest boat returning to the pontoon. A Falmouth quay punt that has travelled the world as a yacht, her career is one of the most varied, as it ranges from fishing boat to leisure cruiser to race winner.

Aileen is the very first St Mawes One Design. She was designed by Frank Peters after he was defeated in races off St Mawes, and was built for speed. She won three Falmouth Town Regatta Class races.

Pipkin is based on the design of the Cape Cod catboats and is used by the volunteers to hone their sailing skills.

On the subject of the NMMC, I’ve been asked to ask a favour of intheboatshed.net readers. It seems that the Our lighthouses: life on the rocks exhibition has made it to the semi-finals in the Best heritage project category of The National Lottery Awards, and needs your votes to make it through to the final.

Just 10 Lottery-funded projects are in contention. Voting is now open now and ends at midday on Friday 18 June.

To vote call 0844 686 7951 (calls cost 5p from a BT landline) or log on to www.lotterygoodcauses.org.uk/awards (which is free).

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National Maritime Museum Cornwall devotes a big show to lighthouses and their keepers

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Relieving the shift on Bishop Rock Lighthouse 1969 (thanks to Gibsons of Scilly); Portland Bill Lighthouse, Dorset (thanks to Trinity House); a storm lashes Longships Lighthouse (thanks to Tim Stevens, image courtesy of Trinity House)

Happy New Year! Lighthouses: Life on the Rocks is the title of a major new exhibition at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall from February 2010.

For centuries the men who operated these iconic beacons of light protected our seas in a very hands-on way, but the UK’s last manned lighthouse was converted to automatic operation in November 1998. This exhibition will therefore explore the lives of the last of the lighthouse keepers before their histories slip out of living memory, and explain the feats of engineering that lie behind the building of the lighthouses themselves.

It will feature a large array of objects including a massive four tonne optic, and there will also be a reconstruction of a lighthouse’s living quarters featuring original curved furniture from Godrevy Lighthouse.

The keepers lived a life of strict routine and isolation, and to fill their time would engage in all sorts of interests including poetry, crafting ships in light bulbs, and supplementing their limited supplies using surprising techniques such as kite fishing.

The exhibition is supported by Trinity House and the General Lighthouse Authority, which is lending a large number of artefacts to the exhibition, which complements the authority’s own heritage centre at the Lizard, and by grants from the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Penryn stocks at Falmouth’s Old Curiosity Shop

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Penryn stocks outside Falmouth’s Old Curiosity Shop

Two interesting characters pose for in Penryn Stocks outside Falmouth’s Old Curiosity shop. I feel sure the one on the right is my old mate Bill Crawford. You out there Bill?

I wrote about a Falmouth quay punt for sale a few days ago, and thinking of Falmouth reminded me of a National Maritime Museum Cornwall’s small exhibitions earlier this year.

It was held to celebrate the centenary of the death of John Burton, 19th century owner of the legendary Old Curiosity Shop in Falmouth, and a great local character. Burton claimed he could sell ‘anything from a monkey to a pulpit’, and his shop contained an amazingly diverse collection of objects reflecting the sailors and passengers who passed through Falmouth at the time. Click on the photo above and take a close look at the larger image, and you’ll see what I mean.

One of Burton’s great dealing successes was acquiring the Penryn borough stocks bearing the date 1673, bought from the Mayor of Penryn who had been instructed to sell some council possessions.

No sooner was the purchase complete than there was a howl of indignation from Penryn Council. A heated discussion followed, and to allay ill-feeling Burton wrote to the press to making the following offer: ‘If three of those grumbling Penryn Town Councillors will consent to be placed in the stocks outsid my show next Monday to get their photos taken in the stocks, I will present the said stocks to the Borough of Penryn to prevent further grumbling.’

The offer was not accepted, and the stocks were sold to an antique dealer, and today, the stocks can be seen at Penryn Museum.