Born at 92 Greenfield Road, Colne in 1878
Hartley was giving solo violin performances by the age of 15 before going
on to lead an orchestra in Bridlington. Pretty soon after that he took up a position
with Cunard entertaining passengers on cruises across the Atlantic on such liners as the Mauretania and Lusitania. By the time he became
bandmaster on the
in 1912 he had made about 80 voyages.
It is reported that Wallace and the band played on as the Titanic sank. As it became apparent just how severe the catastrophe was to be they moved out to the boats and tried to calm the passengers by singing (and/or playing) hymns. Minutes later the entire band was washed away by a sudden wave as the Titanic made it's last plunge. A newspaper at the time reported, "the part played by the orchestra on board the Titanic in her last dreadful moments will rank among the noblest in the annals of heroism at sea."
Eventually (2 weeks after the disaster) Wallace's body was recovered by the the cable ship Mackay-Bennett, he was still wearing his bandsman's uniform of brown overcoat, green facings, black boots and green socks. Strapped to his body was his music box and in his pockets, amongst other things, was a gold fountain pen with his initials W.H.H. His body was transported back to Colne on the SS Arabic, packed in ice and embalmed. On May 18, 1912, the body of bandmaster Wallace Hartley was laid to rest in what one newspaper called "pageantry beyond belief."
The funeral service took place at the Bethel Chapel to a congregation of over 1000 (the chapel is designed to hold about 700). Around 40,000 people lined the route of the funeral procession as his rosewood casket made its way to Colne cemetery, led by seven bands.
In 1915 a statue of Wallace was erected just to the side of the Rectory on Albert Road. The area around the statue has recently been renovated. The inscription reads:
He was laid to rest in the family tomb. The inscription reads:
In Loving Memory of Wallace Henry,
In June 1998, Jonathan Evans Jones, the actor (also a professional violinist!) who played Wallace Hartley in James Cameron's film "The Titanic", helped launch the new tourist guide to Pendle, "PENDLE Discovery Guide" - available from tourist centers across the UK, but free copies can be obtained from Barnoldswick Tourist Information Centre (+44 1282 666704).