Falmouth boom time came in 1688, when it was appointed as the Royal Mail packet station. This was a key strategic role, carrying mail and messages to and from the far flung reaches of the expanding British Empire. The ships were usually lightly-armed and relied on speed for their security, with the captains able to also carry bullion, private goods and passengers.

For over 150 years, between 1688 and 1850, Falmouth Packet ships filled the harbour, landing at Greenbank or Custom House Quay. The Packet Service made Falmouth the information hub of the Empire, second only to London for knowing the news of the day.

Packet ship

One interesting episode happened outside the Packet Agent’s office at Bell's Court, near Market Street. It was on this site that Christopher Saverland read the Riot Act to the Packet crews who had mutinied when Customs Officers had confiscated the private goods of the crew members. These goods had been intended for sale overseas and regarded by the crew as legitimate 'perks!

The end of the Packet era came in 1850, a result of the steam age. The newly built steamships were faster and more reliable than the old sailing packets and could thus reach London whatever the weather or circumstance.