Memories of Mousehole

In this August issue we take a trip down memory lane and recall Mousehole's earlier days, with the help of a remarkable CD-ROM

Malcolm Twigg recalls Mousehole's earlier days, with the help of a remarkable CD-ROM

It's 1911 and a young man is walking the coast of Cornwall on holiday. Cameras are, by now, relatively commonplace so that they cause only an inquisitive, slightly suspicious glance, even in the remoter regions of the county. And, in those days, you couldn't get much more remote than Mousehole. The images he captures show a Cornish fishing village at the work it has been doing for centuries. It's a hard life. There isn't a lot of money around, but the sardines are still running and, deprived though life in Mousehole may be, it seems an idyllic existence viewed almost 100 years on. But the world is on the cusp of change. In a few short years the Great War will unleash its misery, even in Mousehole... and the young man will never take his camera on holiday again.

It is those images that form the historic core of a remarkable interactive CD-ROM produced by the Mousehole Carnival Committee to record the history of the village over the last 100 years, before memories are lost forever. The CD-ROM is the brainchild of Judy Joel, proprietor of The Little Picture Gallery in Mousehole, and produced by Wiltshire-based production company Enthuseit. Some fascinating memories of those halcyon days before the Second World War, that would have today's 'health and safety police' and 'PC brigade' turning somersaults of apoplexy, are recalled by Derek Harvey:

"Quite a lot of artists would stay here during the summer months and as children we sometimes were given (if we were lucky) sixpence to pose for these people, either sitting in a punt on the wharf or in the harbour."

"All the boys kept a pin in the lapel of their coats to pick out winkles after they were boiled on the beach in an old tin off the village dump."

"I remember sometimes a large furniture-type lorry would arrive at the entrance to the new quay, near the pension seat, and after its rear doors were opened there was a film screen, maybe six foot by six foot, and the film was projected from the back, inside the lorry. We would all stand on the slope and watch whatever was showing, usually cartoons or cowboy filmsÉ and we boys rode with the cowboys, making as much noise as possible."

Most Read

"Another big day in the year was May Day, when we would choose a May Queen and attendants, and have a procession through the village. The girls dressed in an array of net curtains, hats and anything to hand. Most of the boys had May horns, which had been blown from first light, waking up the village. Some of us had been busy for several days before making May whistles, which were about 8-10in in length and were made from only the new growth of the May tree, usually growing up the mountains. And with much sucking and tapping with a pocket knife the outside layer of bark slid off the inside layer, a hole would be made and the outer layer could be slid up and down the inner layer to produce a variety of notes. After the procession we would retire to someone's garden and have buns and pop, purchased from any monies collected."

The CD-ROM is divided into separate sections: War and Peace; Farming and Festivals; The Sea; Then and Now; Religion and Art, with local residents recalling their youth in the village. It is an invaluable record of times past in Mousehole, never again to be recaptured, and a poignant reminder of more innocent times.

But perhaps nothing is quite so poignant as the story behind the old photographs. They come from the collection of local resident Edwina Reynolds, whose grandfather, Edwin Frances Madron, was a First World War hero twice mentioned in dispatches, who, while serving on HMS Canopus, had volunteered to swim out with a towrope to the beached Albion in the Falklands, thereby saving the lives of the 800 seamen aboard.

During the 1950s he was the subject of This is Your Life, recounting his exploits, and following the TV programme the family was inundated with letters from well-wishers. One of the letters, enclosing a box of photographs, was from a lady whose brother had been killed in the Great War whilst serving in the navy, and he had taken the photographs whilst on a walking holiday in Cornwall in 1911. Unfortunately, the letter later disappeared and the name of the photographer is now lost foreverÉ unless, of course, anyone out there knows differently.

Copies of the CD-ROM can be purchased from The Little Picture Gallery Tel: 01736 732877 and Jessies' Dairy Tel: 01736 732192 in Mousehole, at £10 each.

15-19 August

Mousehole Carnival

With financial assistance from Awards for All, the CD Rom was produced as a corollary to the Mousehole Carnival which has donated thousands of pounds to local charities over the years. Throughout the carnival various events will take place including Funny Feathers playing at lunchtime on 17th, the Water Colour Challenge on 18th and a spectacular fireworks display also on the 18th. For the duration there will be the Mousehole Art and Craft Exhibition in the Sunday School. The CD Rom will be available at various locations in the village.

Awards for All is the small grants scheme administered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of Lottery good cause funders, Arts Council England, Big Lottery Fund, Heritage Lottery Fund and Sport England. The scheme makes awards of between £300 and £10,000 to grass roots community groups and voluntary organisations.

For further information about carnival events and times please call Judy at The Little Picture Gallery Tel: 01736 732877 or Tony and Gay Kendall Tel: 01736 732532.