01326 319461


Tuesday 23rd February 7:45pm

Terry Chapman: Ben Tillett and HMS Ganges


Radical trade unionist Ben Tillett (1860 – 1943) trained in the teak man-o’-war HMS GANGES while anchored as a boys’ training ship nearby in Carrick Roads.  Invalided out of the RN soon afterwards, he went on to play an important part in Britain’s early labour movement, including leading the seminal 1889 London ‘Dockers’ Tanner Strike’.   Tillett provides a possibly unique first-hand insight into life on board GANGES.  And while doing little to dispel GANGES’ fearsome reputation for harshness, Terry Chapman will also suggest that among other things the diminutive Tillett learned on board, was the need for underdogs to organise themselves in their fight against oppression.

Terry Chapman

After a career as an air engineer in the RN, Terry Chapman studied Contemporary History gaining his PhD in 2006.  With an interest in local history, his contribution to the acclaimed recently published Maritime History of Cornwall reflected his doctoral research into Cornish trading ports.  Now retired and living nearby, he continues to research, write and speak in local historical societies.



Wednesday 24th February 7:45pm

Cafe Scientifique: Frank VanLerven (Positive Money)

After the banking crash seemingly wiped out all credit, with ‘austerity’ now ruling all the coffers, yet house prices going fractal, and Jeremy Corbyn’s suggestion of  ‘people’s quantitative easing” suggested as a better way to reflate a flagging economy, it’s time to ask, with Frank VanLerven of Positive Money: what is money anyway?   (NB: This talk will take another more experimental format, with the speaker joining us remotely, via a live streaming internet link, for our usual short presentation, followed by extended Q&A.  )

Thursday 17th March 7:30pm

Kith, Kin and Creativity

Home is where we start from: Kith, Kin and Creativity

An illustrated talk by author Michael Bird

We often hear about artists having ‘artistic forebears’. Is it different when these forebears are your actual parents? Michael Bird looks at artistic families in history, from the Holbeins to the Calders, through to an introduction to the artists featured in Kith and Kin at Falmouth Art Gallery.

Tickets £6.50 (+ £1 Poly Fund)

Some subsidised tickets are available for students, please call Falmouth Art Gallery on 01326 313863 to enquire


Tuesday 22nd March

Michael Carver: Faith, Hope and a Lot of Hard Work!

3.00 p.m. & 7.45 p.m. 


How did the Poly save hundreds of lives?

When did we buy the building?

What happened to the Museum?

How did a collection of letters save the Poly?

Where is the Beehive Room?

When did the Poly become a Bingo hall?

Who thought strolling players the greatest curse that could befall the town?


Michael Carver tells the story of the Poly, from 1832 onwards.



Saturday 26th March 7:30pm

Justin Leigh: The Impact of Social Media on Traditional Media

BBC One – Spotlight – Justin Leigh

Justin has been broadcasting in the South West for more than twenty years.  His career started with Truro Hospital Radio, followed by 10 years with BBC Radio Cornwall, before he joined Spotlight as a reporter and presenter in 1997.  Justin has covered some of the regions biggest news events including flooding at Boscastle, the 1999 solar eclipse, the foot and mouth outbreak and the Queen's Golden Jubilee.

In this lecture, Justin will be exploring how the explosion in social media is changing the way traditional forms of media report the news. Facebook, Twitter and the other social media platforms are becoming the first port of call for news for younger people and broadcasters and newspapers are having to adapt to this digital world, and how this new world makes it possible for audiences to engage with the media.

This talk is the 2016 Annual Paul Smales Lecture.  The first Paul Smale’s lecture was given in 1994 in memory of a man who made a great contribution to many Cornish institutions and was a friend of The Poly.

A reception will be held at 7.30 p.m., to be followed by the lecture at 8.00 p.m.


Wednesday 6th April 7:45pm

Falmouth History Archive, in partnership with Cafe Sci: Arms and The Fal

Charles Johns, of Cornwall Archaeological Unit will be giving an insight into the historic defences of Pendennis Headland and the wider Carrick Roads, and the Tudor weapons technology developments that suddenly turned the Fal from one of the unsafest places in the country, to one of the safest harbours for a fleet.

Tuesday 19th April 7:45pm

Eric Rabjohns: A Day In The Life Of The Redruth /Chasewater Railway

As a child growing up in Lanner, Eric Rabjohns used to play near the Lanner Hill section of the Redruth and Chasewater Railway.  Years later, he married and moved to Carharrack and coincidentally found himself living beside the old line, so it is no surprise that the retired school teacher has a passion for the railway which operated from 1826 to 1915.

The line, which ran from Pednandrea through Lanner, Carharrack, Twelveheads and Bissoe to the port at Devoran, carried goods from copper ore and coal to wood. In this fascinating talk, Eric will share some of the knowledge he has gained from his extensive research into this remnant of Cornwall’s industrial heritage


Wednesday 4th May 7:45pm

Falmouth History Archive, in partnership with Cafe Sci: The Work of Robert Hunt, Photography Pioneer

Dr. James Ryan, Associate Professor of Historical and Cultural Geography at Exeter University will examine the life and wide-ranging thinking of the polymath Robert Hunt, first full-time secretary at The Poly, and his early experiments with what later became photography.

Thursday 9th June 7:30pm

Dr. Innes McCartney: Jutland 1916 – The Archaeology of a Naval Battlefield

The Battle of Jutland was the largest naval battle and the only full-scale clash of battleships in the First World War. For years the myriad factors contributing to the loss of many of the ships remained a mystery, subject only to speculation and theory. Marine archaeologist and historian Dr Innes McCartney reveals for the first time what became of the warships that vanished on the night of 31st May 1916, examining the circumstances behind the loss of each ship and reconciling what was known in 1916 to what the archaeology is revealing today. (more…)