Cornwall’s main tourist attractions are well known, but the county has plenty of quirky, unique museums waiting to enlighten the next visiting guest. Many are seasonal and closed for winter, so keep your eye on the websites for opening times.
Not so much a museum as a marine conservation charity, a day at the visitor centre here will leave you with a sound understanding of the most valuable sea creature caught in the UK. Peering in at the unique world of this amazing crustacean, you’ll learn about the importance of sustainable fishing and get the chance to meet baby and giant lobsters close-up. Can you put your hand in the eel cave? Only a visit will give you the answer…
South Quay, Padstow PL28 8BL. Tel: 01841 533877
This friendly local museum gives an informative view of life in the area. It’s small and staffed by volunteers, so expect anecdotes of local culture to match the visual displays around the venue. What was industry like in bygone days and how have things changed as time has passed? Pop in to find out more about the Cornwall of yesteryear.
Trebur House, Chapel Lane, Wadebridge PL27 7NJ. Tel: 01208 812771
For all those with a love of big skies and things that fly, this stunning collection has more than 1,500 model aircraft, plus a real runway off to one side. A simulator allows enthusiasts to try the virtual cockpit, and you can also sit in real jets from decades past. For more information, volunteer guides chat to guests about the planes and their stories, so you’ll leave fully grounded in a little bit of aviation history.
HAS 3, Aerohub 2, Newquay TR8 4GP. Tel: 01637 861962
Just as much a toy shop as it is a museum, this little haven for playtime is in the coastal castle town of Tintagel. You will probably have already made the hike up to the battlements for a journey back in time. Now you can do the same in this old curio shop, revisiting the toys of your youth, and stocking up on new ones for future gifts.
Atlantic Road, Tintagel PL34 0DD
In the Vale of Avalon, this centre dedicated to all things King Arthur and Celtic has a mysterious old stone, a small archaeological dig (not related to the subject of the museum, but still fascinating), a tea shop, play area, wishing tree and a field to walk around. Visit in spring when the flowers are out and you’ll discover lush woods with pretty blooms.
Slaughter Bridge, Camelford PL32 9TT
Cornwall’s clay mining industry is the topic of this museum situated in two Victorian china clay works. Visit the Discovery Centre and walk the beautiful woodlands and trails to get an idea of how the clay was won and mined, what it is used for, and how the landscape looks now. Don’t miss the collection of working mining machinery alongside the amazing vintage archive. Anyone keen to know more about local clay mining will find what the need here.
St Austell PL26 8XG
Tucked into the popular beach resort town of Perranporth in the same hall that houses the local library, is this little treasure of a museum. Full of fascinating facts about the local area of Perranzabuloe and its surrounds, the museum has displays and archive objects detailing the history of the area. In the war it was used as a munitions factory, and you can still see a hand grenade from this time.
Ponsmere Road, Perranporth TR6 0BW
You can’t miss the beautiful building that houses Cornwall’s army museum. The Keep was built in the mid-19th-century and is well placed to host a military collection, having once been the HQ of the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry. If you love a good battle story, browsing uniforms from Napoleonic times, and looking at weapons and war letters, this place will keep you entertained.
Bodmin PL31 1EG
Toys, trains and family time, that’s what you’ll find here. Guests say you don’t have to be a railway enthusiast to enjoy this train museum, which is crammed full of industrial and mine locomotives. Enjoy an hour or two checking out the fantastic models, taking a little ride around the field, and listening to the entertaining stories from those who work here.
Tumble Down Farm, Tolgus Mount, Redruth TR15 3TA
Everything you ever wanted to know about Cornwall? Helston’s beautiful market buildings house a museum that sets out to provide just that. From a collection that began in the 30s, the museum has grown into a local institution for social history artefacts that tell the story of life in this county. Look out for exhibitions and events taking place throughout the year.
Market Place, Helston TR13 8TH
Call - 01841 533402