Hereford & Worcester

Trench cello from WW1 played for 'first time'

The cello
Image caption The cello was made by Reginald Paul Quelch, a sapper with the Royal Engineers

A "trench cello", fashioned from an oil can by a World War One soldier, has been played for what may be the first time since the war, a museum has said.

The instrument was made by Reginald Quelch, who served as a sapper with the Royal Engineers.

Mr Quelch died in Pershore at the age of 94 and the cello was given to the Worcester City Art Gallery and Museum.

The 4ft (1.2m) instrument was played by a professional cellist as part of an exhibition at the museum.

Image caption The cellist, Julia Palmer-Price, will play It's a Long Way to Tipperary

Philippa Tinsley, senior curator at the museum, said that while they could not say for certain the cello had not been played since 1918, it had not been played for, "a very long time".

"The cello came to us all packed up in Mr Quelch's kit bag looking like it had lain untouched since he returned from the war," she said.

"It was donated to the Worcestershire county museum by the Quelch family after his death"

The cellist, Julia Palmer-Price, played It's a Long Way to Tipperary on Friday. The wartime favourite has connections with Worcestershire, the museum said.

The exhibition, World War One in the Words of Worcestershire People, opened in October and will run until 14 March.

It also includes a recording of another trench cello which the museum said was, "remarkably mellifluous". It said the instruments were, "reasonably rare" and it believed this was the only surviving cello made at the front.

Ms Tinsley added: "The trench cello is such an evocative object from the museum collection - you can see the inventiveness of the maker in the beautiful hand-turning of the neck and shaping of the oil can to create a real musical instrument.

"It's easy to imagine it bringing a little cheer in the most tragic circumstances."

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