The Ship Portraits. Taking ‘pride of place’ in the Ship Room is the unique collection of over thirty paintings of sailing ships built in Salcombe during the nineteenth century. This was a time when Salcombe was famous for its fast clipper-like schooners - the Salcombe ‘fruiters’ - which raced home with oranges and other fruit from the Azores, the Mediterranean and the West Indies, to reach the markets in the great trading ports of London, Liverpool and Bristol before their competitors. The pictures were usually commissioned, by the ship’s captain, from ‘pierhead artists’ in ports such as Naples, and although often primitive in style, were always accurate in detai
Local Ship and Boat Building. Several hundred Salcombe schooners, as well as larger wooden sailing ships, were built in the shipyards which once lined Salcombe’s waterfront and most were locally owned and crewed. The shipyards have long since vanished but boatbuilding is still carried on in the town. The Museum has an impressive collection of the tools used in these and related maritime trades.
Wartime Memories. During the Second World War Salcombe was the target of a number of ‘hit and run’ bombing raids and the base for much allied naval activity, culminating, in 1943, in the arrival of a United States naval force numbering almost 2000. On 4th June 1944 many of these men sailed from Salcombe in an armada of 66 ships to take part in the D-Day landings. On display are many WWII mementoes, some of them donated by US ex- servicemen who were based here.
The Camera Collection. A display of photographic equipment accompanies the story of A.E. Fairweather (1876-1959) and his family. Many of the photographs of Salcombe and its people shown on the digital photoframes in this room were taken by this well-known Salcombe photographer.