Morwellham Quay - Museum History

In the wake of the publication, in 1967, of Frank Booker's book 'The Industrial Archaeology of the Tamar Valley', interest was revived in the Tamar Valley's industrial past. Morwellham Quay became the focus for this interest, partly due to the survival of several postcard views of it in its heyday, and to the survival of many structures from the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1969, Dartington Hall Trust, an organisation dedicated to the revival of rural industry and conservation of historic buildings, put together a proposal for a field centre at Morwellham. This would enable students to study the natural and historic aspects of the area, while conserving and presenting the surviving remains to enhance public understanding of the port.

A lease on the core buildings of the port and its derelict quays was granted by the Earl of Bradford's estates and the Centre was opened in 1972. This press photograph of about 1982 shows several of the museum's staff in period costume, including the then Director Gary Emerson (with beard and top hat) and the Mine Manager Bob Le Marchant (with sideburns and metal helmet). The interpretation of the past through 'Living History' with costumed staff explaining the workings of the port to visitors has been a key feature of Morwellham Quay Museum since the late 1970s and continues to this day.