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Titanic violin could sell for £400,000

Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley's Violin Credit: Tim Ireland/PA Wire

Wallace Hartley has become part of the ship's legend after leading his fellow musicians in playing as the doomed vessel went down, most famously the hymn Nearer My God To Thee.

Hartley and his seven fellow band members all died in the tragedy in April 1912 after the liner sailed from her home port of Southampton, 1,500 people died after the ship hit an iceberg.

His violin, which had been a gift from his fiancee Maria Robinson, was apparently found in a case strapped to his body when it was recovered from the icy Atlantic waters.

Its re-emergence in 2006, when it was reportedly discovered in an attic in Yorkshire, prompted heated debate over its authenticity.

Titanic specialist auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son insist nearly seven subsequent years of research and tests have proved it to be the genuine article.

Now the violin - accompanied by a leather luggage case initialed W. H. H. - is being put up for sale along with a host of items from the ship at the public auction in Devizes, Wiltshire.

Andrew Aldridge, a valuer with the auctioneer, said it was likely to break the world record fee for a single piece of memorabilia from the Titanic.

The violin has a reserve price of between £200,000 and £300,000 but is expected to fetch as much as £400,000, he said.

Titanic cemetery is to get a major overhaul

The graveyard in Halifax, Canada, will be upgraded

The Titanic cemetery, where many people who died in the tragedy from Southampton are buried, is to be given a major upgrade next spring.

Headstones will be cleaned, new paths will be laid and the inscriptions will be whitened at the cemetery in Halifax, Canada.

Thousands of visitors go to the site every year.

Halifax was the nearest major city to where Titanic sank. Nearly 1,500 people lost their lives when the ship went down.

The Fairview Cemetery is one of three in Halifax, where 150 of those who died are buried


Violin 'played on the Titanic' to go on show

Video. A violin it is claimed was heroically played by Wallace Hartley, the Titanic band leader, as the ship sunk. It will go on show this week ahead of it being auctioned in Wiltshire next month. Forensic experts in Oxford helped a six year investigation trying to prove it is genuine.

But now relatives of another band member who also played a violin say they do not believe it is genuine. Mike Pearse reports.

  1. Mike Pearse, Transport Correspondent

Was this the violin played by the band as Titanic sank in 1912?

The violin that auctioneers say was played on the Titanic. Credit: Mike Pearse/ITV Meridian

According to auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son, from Wiltshire, the instrument is made of maple and spruce wood and belonged to Wallace Hartley, the leader of the orchestra on the ill-fated ship.

They have spent six years researching the object and even enlisted world leading forensic scientist in Oxford and used a CT scanner in Swindon to prove it was authentic.

But as the violin is about to go on public view at the visitor attraction, Titanic Belfast, the relative of another band member says he simply "does not believe" it is genuine.

The RMS Titanic sailed from Southampton in April 1912 Credit: PA

Christopher Ward lost his grandfather, Jock Hume, in the tragedy. He was 21 years-old and himself played the violin. Mr Ward has spent years researching the subject for a book, And the Band Played On.

He told ITV News the way violins were made a century ago meant is was unlikely it could have survived for several days in the water after the Titanic went down. "It would have broken up" he believes.

But the auctioneers disagree. They say they "wanted proof beyond doubt" it was genuine before they sold it. They have spent six years and many thousands of pounds on world forensic experts and historians to discover if it is the real thing.

They say the inscriptions on the violin itself and the case that was with it prove beyond doubt it is genuine.


  1. Mike Pearse

'Baby Titanic' restoration complete after 7 years of work

The restoration of the ship they call the baby Titanic is finally complete, after seven years of hard work.

The Nomadic was built to ferry up to 1,000 passengers out to the Titanic - as she was often too big to get into individual ports.

Now the Nomadic been returned to her original state, thanks to a major fundraising campaign and a Heritage Lottery grant. Our Transport Correspondent Mike Pearse spoke to Denis Rooney from the Nomadic Trust in this report.

  1. Mike Pearse

Plans for 'Titanic II' move forward

Artists impression of the Titanic II Credit: Blue Star Line

Plans for a second Titanic have today come a major step nearer with the awarding of the first major contract for the new ship.

The Australian businessman behind the controversial scheme, Clive Palmer, has announced one of the leading marine companies in the world, Delatamrin, will manage the design and construction of the vessel.

Some have remained sceptical if the ship would ever be built but the awarding of the contract does indicate she may eventually be built.

Many people in Southampton have criticised the plan as insensitive to those who died on board. 550 came from the city.

But others say it will be a tribute to those who died and 'can't wait' to get on board.The ship is due to sail from Southampton to New York from 2016.

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