About Us

Who we are

The Mousehole Harbour Lights Committee is run solely by unpaid volunteers, who give many hours of work to ensure that the lights are ready for the ‘switch-on’.  The main work commences in September but general maintenance and repair work will be carried out all through the year from the time the lights are dismantled in January/February.

The Committee are always looking for more volunteers to help in continuing our spectacular Christmas lights. Please contact us via the email link if you can help.

Our history

The Christmas lights were started in 1963 by Mousehole-based artist, Joan Gillchrest.  A string of coloured bulbs were put along both quays to make the village a bit brighter at Christmastime. 

From those early days our displays grew very quickly having caught the imagination of a couple of village carpenters who made up and donated items to the displays.  Some of their designs, like the sea serpent, are still featured at Christmas although they are not the original pieces.  The sea serpent has been remade several times as the weather in December and January can badly affect the displays. The original serpent was made for the 1973 display, but as this was the year of the power cuts, although the lights were all put up, they were only lit for a short period at the end of the Christmas.

Following  a major storm on 15th Dec 1989 (the night before switch on) a lot of the items in the harbour were damaged. Some of the 'Bulks' that close of the harbour were smashed out  by the sea and items on the Quays were washed into the harbour. By switch on time on the 16th Dec the team had reconstructed most of the items, but as the storm continued the items were not put back up. Switch on that year was held at the bottom of Fore street as the waves crashed over the quays. By the end of that week everything was back up and running including the newest display, the Whale, which fortunately was scheduled to be put into the harbour on switch on day, so missed the storm.


We have recently celebrated our 50th 'Golden' year. From our humble beginings to present day we have had many unpaid volunteers helping us. As we've passed such a milestone, those who have helped on the lights over the years can especially enjoy the legacy they have left for the village and community.

Present Day

Our largest set piece is the 'Merry Christmas / Happy New Year' which is approximately 160ft (50m) long x 20ft (6m) high and contains nearly 1000 bulbs.

In total we estimate over 10,000 bulbs are used in our displays plus ropelighting. We have 20 strings of lanterns with around 50 lamps in each set and over 40 set pieces all made by our Volunteer team. The amount of cable used is in excess of 7.5 miles.

Our annual running costs are around £20,000 which is primarily met by donations from the public and fund raising events throughout the year.

We estimate that during the time the lights are on Mousehole will receive 30,000 visitors.

Our most ambitious project undertaken is the Celtic Cross located on St Clement’s Island. Originally powered by a 110 volt subsea cable it was introduced as our Millennium project. For Christmas 2009 the Celtic Cross was refurbished and converted to being powered by a wind generator.  During the Valentine day storm of 2014 the whole cross was lost to the sea. We have replaced it and now it's powered by Solar PV cells. We have had tremendous support from The Ship Inn, Mousehole, and St Austell Brewery to enable us to carry out this work. Thanks also go to Bolitho Estates who kindly allow us to use this part of their property. Click here to see a short video of the cross being installed

Switch on VIP's

1963 No official switch on 1964 Mrs.J.Gillchrest 1965 Mr.W.McClary
1966 Mrs Goddard 1967 Mrs.M.Williams 1968 Mrs.Jarman
1969 Mrs.D.Yglesias 1970 Mr.J.Drew 1971 Mrs.J.Pender
1972 Miss.Ross 1973 Mr.F.Richards* 1974 Mr.F.Richards
1975 Mr.B.Swanson 1976 Mrs.J.Gillchrest 1977 Mr.B.Pearce
1978 Mr & Mrs MacFarlane 1979 Mr.W.Trevaskis 1980 Mrs.M.Williams
1981 Mr.C.Greenhaugh 1982 Rev.Cadman 1983 Mr.G.Jeffrey
1984 BBC's Blue Peter 1985  Mrs.E.Keates 1986 Mr.J.Pender
1987 Mr.R.Waters 1988 Mr.D.Williams 1989 Mr.W.Williams
1990 Mr & Mrs M Maddern 1991 Mr.N.Bawden 1992 Mr.A.Perry
1993 Mrs.J.Gillchrest 1994 Rev.Stevens 1995  Mr.R.Harding
1996  Mr.T.Waters 1997  Mr.R.Harry 1998 Mrs.J.Harris
1999 Mr & Mrs Harvey 2000 Mrs.E.Webb 2001 Mr.J.Guard
2002 Mr.F.Wallis 2003 Mrs.J.Madron 2004  Mr & Mrs D.Redhead
2005  Mr.C.Roberts 2006 Mr & Mrs R.Pascoe 2007 Mr & Mrs Dancy
2008 Mr.N.Brockman 2009 Male Voice Chior 2010  Mrs.A.Keates
2011  Mr & Mrs R.Pomeroy 2012 Mr.R.Smith
2013 50th Year - Mr.D.Penrose, Mr.S.Purnell & Mrs.D.Burroughs
2014 Mr & Mrs J.Bryer 2015 Mr & Mrs M.Brockman 2016 Mr & Mrs W.Thomas
2017 Mr & Mrs R.Ward 2018  Rev'd Julyan Drew  2019 Mr B.Martin

* 1973 - Due to national power cuts, the lights were not switched on as usual. Mr.F.Richards switched on in 1974

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