Wallace Hartley’s Titanic violin to return home to Dewsbury

The world-famous violin played by Titanic Bandmaster Wallace Hartley will return to his hometown for the first time in more than 100 years later this month.

By Lindsay Pantry
Tuesday, 1st October 2013, 2:14 pm

It will go on display for one day only at Dewsbury Town Hall on Monday October 14.

Mr Hartley, who lived at West Park Street, was violinist and bandmaster on the doomed maiden voyage of the Titanic, which ended in disaster on April 14 1912.

He famously led the band as they ‘played on’ while the ship sank.

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Wallace Hartley's violin

His German violin was an engagement gift from his fiancée Maria, and will be on display along with his leather luggage case, initialled W. H. H. (Wallace Henry Hartley). Music sheets that were recovered at sea alongside his body will also be on display.

It will be the last chance to see the collection before it is auctioned on October 19 by Henry Aldridge & Son, the world’s leading auctioneer of Titanic memorabilia.

Part of the Town Hall will also be transformed into a vintage tea room for the day, with live music from the era.

Coun Darren O’Donovan said: “This exhibition provides an opportunity to view what has been described by the auctioneer as the ‘Holy Grail’ of Titanic memorabilia prior to the exhibits being auctioned.

A cutting from the Dewsbury News from May 4 1912 regarding 'Dewsbury's Titanic Hero' Wallace Hartley

“We are very fortunate that we have been presented with this opportunity due to the local connection to Wallace and I hope that local residents in particular will come along to experience a slice of history on their doorstep.”

Andrew Aldridge, a chartered valuation surveyor with Henry Aldridge and Son Auctioneer, said: “The Wallace Hartley Titanic violin is one of the most iconic collectables from the 20th century.

“Bandleader Hartley was an incredibly brave man whose actions helped to calm passengers during Titanic’s last hours. The authentication process behind the collection has been a long and exhaustive one with some of the world’s leading experts in their respective fields helping to assemble a conclusive package of independent reports to accompany the archive.”

Collectors from all over the world have expressed interest in purchasing the violin, which has been on display in America and at the Titanic Belfast museum.

It is engraved “For WALLACE on the occasion of our ENGAGEMENT from MARIA.”

Mr Aldridge added: “After being approached by Kirklees Council, we felt it only appropriate that the violin come home to Yorkshire and the town where Wallace Hartley chose to live for one last time.”

The exhibition will be free but booking tickets, at a maximum of four per booking, is essential on a first come first served basis.

Tickets are available from 9am on Tuesday October 8. To book online visit www.kirklees.gov.uk/townhalls or collect from Dewsbury Town Hall Booking Office.

Anyone wishing to make a donation on the day can do so and all proceeds will go to Kirklees Music School and the Mayor’s Charity.