‘Nearer My God to Thee…’

Fujifilm X-T10, Samyang 12mm f/2 @ f/8, 1/2500th sec, ISO-800.

Colne has a really lovely cemetery, located on the south-side of the town with the calm tranquility of Wycollor dene beneath it and the dark moorland mass of Boulesworth beyond. I would be happy buried here, as so many already are of course.  It’s most famous ‘resident’ is probably Wallace Hartley, the musical leader of the band that played on as the RMS Titanic went down in the cold, dark mid-Atlantic in April 1912.  Born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, Wallace was a resident of Colne from being a young child.  A talented musician, he made his living playing aboard the great transatlantic liners of the period and would have seen the Titanic’s maiden crossing as a very plumb job indeed!  When disaster struck, Wallace and his associates kept their nerve as the hugh liner breathed her last that night, their playing soothing the fears of their fellow passengers before the water finally reached them to, sometime around 2:15am, Monday 15th April 1912.  It is believed that their last act together was to play the Hymn ‘Nearer My God To Thee’, although there is some dispute about that.

Anyway, of the 1500 souls who entered the freezing water that night and perished, only some 300 bodies were recovered including Wallace’s – with his violin still strapped to him. While the vast majority of those found ended up in a cemetery in Halifax, Nova-Scotia, Wallace was instead returned to the UK and in May 1912 he was buried after a funeral procession that took his remains through Colne for internment in the cemetery, where he remains to this day…  A public subscription raised the funds for this memorial stone to be erected as well as a bust which was placed in the centre of the town where it remains to this day.  As you can see the memorial here has on it a violin and the open music for the hymn he is thought to have played before he died.


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