Violin used by Titanic band master to be sold at auction

Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley.
Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley.

A violin believed to have been played by heroic bandmaster Wallace Hartley as the Titanic sank is to be sold at auction.

Hartley, who was known for playing at the Kursaal in Harrogate where his father Albion lived, was the leader of the famed eight-piece band who sacrificed their own hopes of survival.

Despite the drama surrounding them, they played hymns in an attempt to calm passengers on the so-called ‘unsinkable ship’.

If proved to be authentic by further tests, the violin will have survived the tragedy which claimed the lives of more than 1,500 people after the ship hit an iceberg and sank on April 15 1912.

The auction, which is expected to take place later this year, will be hosted by Titanic experts Henry Aldridge & Son, in Wiltshire, who have spent seven years compiling evidence proving “beyond reasonable doubt” that it is the real thing.

The anonymous owner claims to have found the violin in a travelling case bearing the musician’s initials at his mother’s home, in Bridlington, in 2006.

The instrument was reportedly returned to Hartley’s fiancée, Maria Robinson of Boston Spa, before it was donated to the Salvation Army in Bridlington.

It later ended up at the home of an amateur musician in the early 1940s.

The instrument, which has two strings missing and a crack down the side of its rosewood body, will go on display in Belfast, where the Titanic was built, at the end of this month.

It is expected to fetch more than £400,000 at auction.