A CELLO crafted from an oil can by a Pershore soldier during the First World War has been played for the first time in 100 years.

The instrument made by Sapper Reginald Quelch of the Royal Engineers was heard again in a BBC radio broadcast featuring professional cellist Julia Palmer-Price, who played It’s a Long Way to Tipperary, which has particular resonance for the area as its two writers are said to have met in Worcestershire. Written on January 30, 1912 and performed for the first time the next night, the cheerful marching tune and poignant words toured through the country in 1914 and 1915 and became a favourite with the forces at war.

The "trench cello" is one of the centre pieces of Worcester City Art Gallery & Museum's current exhibition World War One in the Words of Worcestershire People. It was made and played in the trenches of the Western Front by Sapper Quelch, who went on to work for Great Western Railway as a signal engineer and married in 1924. He died in Pershore at the age of 94.

Philippa Tinsley, senior curator at the museum, said: "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.”

World War One in the Worlds of Worcestershire People, which runs until March 14, has brought together in public for the first time letters, diaries, poems and unusual objects such as the cello, offering visitors a personal insight into the First World War. Since opening in October 2014 more than 10,000 people have visited the exhibition.

The exhibition is part of the Worcestershire World War One Hundred project, one of the largest programmes of events across England commemorating WW1, and funded through the Heritage Lottery Fund. The exhibition is open Monday – Saturday 10.30am – 4.30pm.

For more information contact the Art Gallery and Museum on 01905 25371 or visit www.museumsworcestershire.org.uk or follow @worcestermuseum

For more information on the Worcestershire World War One Hundred programme visit www.ww1worcestershire.co.uk