New play featuring legendary Hartlepool song set to wow crowds

Ed Waugh

Ed Waugh

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A play with music by the man labelled with creating the Hartlepool Monkey legend is set to wow audiences.

The new show called Mr Corvan’s Music Hall, tells the story of Ned Corvan, who was a North East music hall star in the 1850s and early 1860s.

The play follows the life story of Mr Corvan, the man who is thought to have started the Hartlepool Monkey myth with his song ‘Fishermen Hung The Monkey, O.’

The song provides the earliest mention of the Hartlepool hanging.

Mr Corvan, a comedian, singer, songwriter and artist, lived and worked in Hartlepool throughout his short career, starting off by performing with Billy Purvis’ travelling show.

Purvis, who was known affectionately as the “Jester of the North” died on December 16, 1853, at the Angel Inn, High Street, Hartlepool, and is buried in St Hilda’s Churchyard on the Headland.

It is thought that Mr Corvan publicly performed the song at the Dock Hotel Music Hall, Southgate, around 1855. The show’s playwright Ed Waugh, from South Tyneside, said: “It was well received, apparently. The song provides the earliest mention of the Hartlepool hanging. It quickly became a huge favourite throughout the region and it was from there that the Hartlepool Monkey myth developed.”

“Fishermen Hung The Monkey, O,’ is still popular today in the folk clubs as well as his songs like Cullercoats Fish Lass and an early protest song called Toon Improvement Bill.”

The former Hartlepool Power Station worker added: “Anti-establishment to the last, Ned was effectively the first music hall superstar in the North East. 
“Despite his short life, when Neddied of TB of the larynx in 1865 aged only 37, he left behind around 120 wonderful songs that chronicled life and resonated with working class people at the time.

“This is a show that anyone with an interest in Hartlepool history, brilliant music and exciting theatre should definitely not miss.”

It plays Hartlepool Town Hall on Tuesday, June 6, at 7.30pm. For tickets call 01429 523409.