A community honoured the memory of Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley on the 102nd anniversary of his death.

A short memorial service was held at the bandstand named after him in Dewsbury town centre.

Around 25 people gathered to pay their respects to Hartley, who famously had his band play on as the “unsinkable” ship went down on April 15 1912.

Newspaper reports of Wallace Hartley's heroism
Newspaper reports of Wallace Hartley's heroism
 

The giant liner, with 2,223 people on board, sank after hitting an iceberg on its maiden voyage. Some 1,517 died.

Hartley, 33, at the time of his death, lived in Almondbury and Dewsbury, and his story – and the Titanic tragedy itself – continues to endure and fascinate.

The 45-minute service was led by the Rev Judith Satchell, minister at the Longcauseway United Reformed and Methodist Church, just across the road from the bandstand.

Mrs Satchell paid tribute to Hartley and said: “He showed great courage in the face of tragedy. We should give thanks for his life and think how we would respond in similar circumstances.

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“This is the story of an ordinary North country man who put others first even at great cost to himself.”

The service also heard addresses from Nicola Colloby – who lives in Hartley’s former home in West Park Street, Dewsbury – and Gaynor Goalby and students Ebony Whitehead and Lorna Heaps from Westborough High School, Dewsbury.

Hartley was born and raised in Colne, Lancashire, and moved to Huddersfield with his family after leaving school.

He lived in Almondbury and joined Huddersfield Philharmonic Orchestra before later moving to Dewsbury.

 

Hartley led his band in a chorus of Nearer My God to Thee as the Titanic went down, and that hymn was sung in poignant conclusion to the service.

One of those who attended was John Yearsley, 60, of Scholes, near Cleckheaton, who believed a descendent of his, Harry Yearsley, had been a first class steward on the Titanic.

Harry was thought to be one of the lucky ones who got into a lifeboat and was plucked to safety by rescue ship RMS Carpathia.

John, wearing period dress and sporting a badge of Titanic owner White Star Line, said: “I have come here as a tribute to Harry. We believe he was one of 300 stewards on board and he may have known Wallace Hartley.”

John, who organised a Titanic exhibition in Cleckheaton on the 100th anniversary two years ago, described himself as a “Titanorak”, a name given to those with a fascination for the Titanic story.

Wallace Hartley's violin and bag
Wallace Hartley's violin and bag
 

The bandstand next to Dewsbury Town Hall was opened last September and in October a violin played by Hartley on that fateful night went on display in the town.

The German instrument, an engagement gift from his fiancée Maria, later raised a staggering £900,000 at auction.