Titanic historian believes £900,000 violin is genuine

Mr Darran Ward launches his book 'Playing to the End' at the Titanic in Lancashire Museum in Colne.'Photo Ben Parsons
Mr Darran Ward launches his book 'Playing to the End' at the Titanic in Lancashire Museum in Colne.'Photo Ben Parsons

A local historian and Titanic fanatic has spoken out following the £900,000 record sale of Wallace Hartley’s violin.

Since the Colne bandmaster’s instrument was auctioned at Henry Aldridge and Son last month, there has still been some doubt over its authenticity – with some people believing it could not have survived after being submerged in sea water.

This is despite seven years of intense investigation into the history and forensics of the violin, and proof that the wood does still contain salt deposits.

Now, Darran Ward (45) is backing leading experts, stating his belief that the instrument is a genuine article.

Mr Ward, of Keighley Road, Colne, said: “There are people who say that the violin is not the one, but the thing is you have to look outside the box. I do think it is the one.

“Maria (Wallace’s fiancée) had the violin for years, and it has got salt traces in it. What’s she been doing to get it like that?

“What has happened is she has had it repaired and put it back together. If you’ve got something and it breaks, you are not going to whizz it in the bin. She has looked after it.”

Mr Ward, who has been looking into the life of the Colne bandmaster since he was 17, published “Playing to the End - The Life of Wallace Hartley” last year.

He added: “Things are always coming to light about Wallace – they never really stop.

“I am still finding things out and adding to my collection.

“When you are doing so much research, you do get to know the person really well.”

Wallace Hartley’s violin, which is believed to have been played on the fateful night the RMS Titanic sank, was sold alongside a leather case initialled W.H.H (Wallace Henry Hartley).

It had initially been given back to Hartley’s fiancée Maria Robinson in England, and, after she died in 1939, it was donated to her local Salvation Army band.

The latest buyer of the poignant piece of history, which bears a silver hallmark, is said to be a private collector.