Titanic link to music maestros

Ian Birnie of Balmoral Road, St Annes with Titanic memorabilia
Ian Birnie of Balmoral Road, St Annes with Titanic memorabilia

THE centenary of the Titanic’s sinking sounded a particularly poignant note for a St Annes man as he has a family link to the tragic liner’s bandmaster Wallace Hartley.

Ian Birnie, of Balmoral Road, marked the anniversary by paying tribute to Mr Hartley and the others who lost their lives in the Atlantic 100 years ago during a service at St Cuthbert’s Church, Lytham.

And he was taken aback to find that another member of the congregation had family connections to the band which played on as the Titanic sank.

“The minister Rev Philip Biggs asked at Sunday’s service for anyone with a family link to the Titanic to go forward and as I did, there also emerged a lady who was linked to a member of the band called John Law-Hume,” said Ian.

“I have always been very proud of our family link to Wallace Hartley and it is amazing to think there is another local connection to the band. I will try to make contact to find out more.”

Ian’s great grandmother Susan Hartley was Wallace’s aunt — and the musical connection has continued through the generations.

Ian’s mother had a chance to join the D’Oyly Carte Opera Company but had to turn it down for family reasons, while Ian’s son Stuart has forged a career in orchestral music.

Also proud of his links to Wallace’s East Lancashire home ground is Fylde Mayor Coun Howard Henshaw, who on the anniversary weekend attended a talk at the Bethel Independent Methodist Chapel in Colne.

Wallace sang in the church choir and started his musical career there and Coun Henshaw’s grandfather James Higginson knew the Hartleys as he often preached at the Bethel Church.

Also at the weekend, Coun Henshaw and the Mayoress, Coun Karen Henshaw, informally attended the building of sandcastles on St Annes beach to mark the Titanic anniversary.

They included a 30ft version and fireworks were lit to mark the centenary.