Early Choir Artefacts Given To Mousehole Archive.

Thursday 6th August, 2020 - 6:11pm

The Mousehole Archive, based in the village is an organisation that is dedicated to research and archiving historic information and artefacts relating to Mousehole, one of the most ancient, characteristic, and historically important villages in Cornwall. Over the course of the lockdown imposed by the corona virus they received a fantastic collection from the family of the late Marigold Halse. Her father was Willie Harvey who was one of the founding members of Mousehole Male Voice Choir in 1909 The artefacts are pictured and include one of the earliest photographs of the choir taken in 1911. Willie Harvey is on the front row left in the bowler hat. And yes, the photo of the bowler hat is that same hat - now in the collection, along with original recordings of the choir.

Legend has it that when the choir began its rehearsals in the net loft above the pilchard press in Duck Street, (opposite the Solomon Browne Hall where the artefacts are now kept) the first person up the ladder was sixteen year old William Harvey. One can imagine the loft scene with the pile of nets in the corner and the dozen or so men singing carols to the light of an oil lamp, with the first piece that they rehearsed being “Holly Berries, Holly Berries, Bright Red and Gleaming”. The words of which had been chalked up on the net loft door.

It was said that “so great an influence had his quality and reliability on the baritone section that they all sounded like Willie”. This was high commendation indeed. His accuracy, range solo repertoire and interpretation were as sustained as they were invaluable in a choir leader.

Whether it was the Minack Theatre, little wayside Bethel, Central Hall, Mousehole harbour on board the fishing boat ‘Lyonesse’ or on BBC Radio, William Harvey’s reading of a song was colourful and sincere.

Willie continued through the years from 1909 as a baritone soloist and loyal member until his death in 1967, singing under the baton of all, bar three, of the choir’s conductors.

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