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Blue Plaque Unveiling at Bridlington Spa

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Published by the Yorkshire Coast Radio News Team at 1:42pm 17th July 2014.

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 this evening, 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, to which the public is invited.


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."

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