BLUE PLAQUE TO COMMEMORATE TITANIC BAND LEADER AT THE SPA BRIDLINGTON
The Chairman of East Riding of Yorkshire Council, Councillor Patricia O’Neil, will be unveiling a commemorative plaque to Wallace Hartley, the heroic bandleader on the RMS Titanic, who played at The Spa Bridlington between 1902 – 1904.
The plaque will be unveilled at 6.30pm on Thursday 17 July as part of the launch of the The Spa Bridlington’s summer repertory season and the first performance of Showtime the Musical II.
Local historian, Mike Wilson, will also be on hand to add context to the unveiling.
Wallace Hartley became famous when he led his orchestra of eight performers to play for the passengers on the sinking ship in order to keep them calm. He died in the sinking and is recognised as one of the noblest of heroes of the events of 15 April 1912.
Wallace was an English violinist, born in Colne in Lancashire. In 1902, he moved to Bridlington to join the municipal orchestra and was engaged to work at The Spa Bridlington, albeit in it’s original guise. He left to work on many of the great ocean liners of the day including the RMS Lucania, RMS Luscitania and the RMS Mauritania. Offered the opportunity to sail on the RMS Titanic he preferred to stay with his fiancé to whom he had only recently proposed but chose to go for the important contacts it would generate.
In recent years, the story of Wallace Hartley’s violin has been in the headlines. Recovered from the sea and returned to his fiancé, Maria Robinson, in July 1912 it remained with her until her death. It was inherited by her sister who passed it to the Bridlington Salvation Army. It was later passed to a violin teacher before languishing in the same family for 70 years. After forensic confirmation that it was genuine it was subsequently sold at auction for a record breaking £900,000, becoming the most valuable artefact to date.
Wallace Hartley’s residency at The Spa Bridlington and the story of the violin, link the town to the RMS Titanic in a very special way. The town and the venue have a rich heritage and The Spa Bridlington was a major venue on the tour circuit of the time; much as it is today. The unveiling of the blue plaque will provide a lasting commemoration of this heroic figure who gave his life putting others first.
Andrew Aldis, general manager of The Spa Bridlington said, “Keeping history alive is an important part of operating a venue with the heritage of The Spa Bridlington but any connection with the RMS Titanic will increase the visibility of a place in the eyes of many tourists. This commemorative plaque could serve to promote our town to a worldwide market and that can only be a good thing.”
17:55 Venue briefing – Coastal Voices, Brass Band, Bridlington Ambassadors, Mike Wilson and Vintage Car Club organiser
18:10 All set outside ready for the arrival of the Chairman and Consort
18:15 Arrival of Chairman and Consort
18:25 Welcome and Introduction by Andrew Aldis
18:30 Context by Mike Wilson who will call on the Chairman to prepare to unveil the plaque
18:33 COASTAL VOICES sing Nearer My God To Thee
18:35 Chairman unveils plaque after saying a few words of her choosing (see reference notes below)
18:40 Brass Band commences playing Nearer My God to Thee
18:45 Andrew Aldis thanks the Chairman and invites to continue enjoying the brass band
19:00 Brenda Sawyer – former summer season performer from the 30s, 40s and 50s – arrives. Brass band plays Happy Birthday to celebrate her 90th birthday.
– Became famous for leading the eight member band as the RMS Titanic sank on 15 April 1912.
– He died in the sinking and is recognised as one of the noblest heroes of the event.
– He was an English violinist.
– He was born and raised in Colne in Lancashire.
– He joined the Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra when his parents moved to the town.
– In 1902, he left home to join the municipal orchestra here in Bridlington.
– He later performed on a number of ocean liners including RMS Lucania, RMS Lusitania and RMS Mauritania.
– Hartley led his band; playing as the Titanic foundered in order to keep the passengers calm.
– He had been hesitant about sailing on the Titanic as he did not want to leave his fiance Maria Robinson but believed the contract offered an opportunity to make useful contacts.
– By July 1912, Wallace Hartley’s violin had been recovered from the ocean and returned to his fiance.
– The violin was passed from Maria sister to the Bridlington Salvation Army. They passed it to a violin teacher and on to someone who kept it for over 70 years.
– It took two years of forensic examination to confirm that this was the violin of Wallace Hartley and it sold in October 2013 for £900,000.
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