Titanic museum curator rubbishes claims that violin of Colne bandmaster has been found

Wallace Hartley

Wallace Hartley

First published in News

THE CURATOR of the Titanic in Lancashire Museum has rubbished claims that Wallace Hartley’s violin has been found.

Titanic auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son claim a violin played by Colne bandmaster Wallace on board the fatal ship is to go on display in Belfast at the end of the month.

The instrument was discovered in an attic in 2006 and tests carried out by scientists are said to have verified it was Wallace’s violin.

Andrew Aldridge, of Henry Aldridge and Son, said: “When we first saw the violin we had to keep a lid on our excitement because it was almost as if it was too good to be true.

“The silver fish plate on the violin along with the other items it was with, such as the leather case with Hartley's initials on, his jewellery and covering letter to the owner's late mother, suggested it was either authentic or an extremely elaborate hoax up there with the Hitler Diaries.

'We knew we would have to look into it and it couldn't be rushed. Everything needed to be researched properly and the correct experts had to be commissioned.

'We have spent the last seven years gathering the evidence together and have now reached the stage where we can say that beyond reasonable doubt this was Wallace Hartley's violin on the Titanic.

“We now know that minutes before the end he placed his beloved violin in this hard-wearing travelling case.

“The bag rested on top of his lifejacket and would have largely been kept out of the water. A letter from his mother was found in his breast pocket and that suffered hardly any water damage.”

But Nigel Hampson, curator of the Colne museum, said: “The historical record does not show that Wallace was recovered with his violin strapped to his body - it actually proves the opposite.

“The inventory of items recovered on Wallace's body makes no mention whatsoever of a violin or music case or anything similar being found with him.

“We are supposed to believe that when the ship sinks and everyone, the band included, are fighting for their lives, Wallace is more concerned with the fate of his instrument than his life?

“We are also supposed to believe that the violin survives almost two weeks in the sea and emerges intact?

“The local press in Colne make no mention of his violin whatsoever. If Wallace had indeed been recovered with his violin after the disaster, they would have been all over the story and given it massive coverage.

“This violin clearly is a Wallace Hartley instrument, but to claim that it is the violin that he had with him on the Titanic is preposterous and is not backed up by the historical record.”

A number of items of Hartley’s jewellery will be sold at auction in Devizes on April 20.

Comments (3)

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4:27pm Sat 16 Mar 13

mikebuk says...

So when he is proved wrong, goodbye Mr Curator ?
So when he is proved wrong, goodbye Mr Curator ? mikebuk
  • Score: -1

6:00pm Sat 16 Mar 13

woolywords says...

Jock Hume, from Dumfries, Scotland, also played violin on the RMS Titanic and although his body was recovered, his two instruments weren't. His father, Andrew, made a claim to the White Star line for the loss of both his son and the violins, valuing the former at £300 and the latter at £325, this claim was turned down but a charge for the return of the boys remains was applied a sum equal to normal cargo rates. This, after the company had sent a bill, demanding payment for his uniform!

As regards this item and provenance, it's such a shame that the old maxims of caveat emptor nor caveat venditor no longer apply, because I can see there being tears for someone, in the future.
The cynic in me, notes that this item goes on sale, 101 years to the week after the sinking. Coincidence, anyone or just serendipity?
Jock Hume, from Dumfries, Scotland, also played violin on the RMS Titanic and although his body was recovered, his two instruments weren't. His father, Andrew, made a claim to the White Star line for the loss of both his son and the violins, valuing the former at £300 and the latter at £325, this claim was turned down but a charge for the return of the boys remains was applied a sum equal to normal cargo rates. This, after the company had sent a bill, demanding payment for his uniform! As regards this item and provenance, it's such a shame that the old maxims of caveat emptor nor caveat venditor no longer apply, because I can see there being tears for someone, in the future. The cynic in me, notes that this item goes on sale, 101 years to the week after the sinking. Coincidence, anyone or just serendipity? woolywords
  • Score: 0

9:20am Mon 18 Mar 13

Womble says...

Nigel Hampson clearly doesn't understand musicians who have a genuine passion for their instruments. I can fully believe that Wallace Hartley tried to save his violin. The violinist, Sandor Feher, on board the Costa Concordia, which sank in January 2012, drowned whilst trying to rescue his violin. Whilst I think he was daft to try, I also fully understand why he did so. When I take my violin out of my home, it never leaves my side, not even for a moment.
Nigel Hampson clearly doesn't understand musicians who have a genuine passion for their instruments. I can fully believe that Wallace Hartley tried to save his violin. The violinist, Sandor Feher, on board the Costa Concordia, which sank in January 2012, drowned whilst trying to rescue his violin. Whilst I think he was daft to try, I also fully understand why he did so. When I take my violin out of my home, it never leaves my side, not even for a moment. Womble
  • Score: 0

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