Dramatic events will mark Titanic centenary

ITV Titanic's band. (S)

ITV Titanic's band. (S)

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THERE are two big events to mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic.

ITV is broadcasting a drama series about the ship later this month and, in April, Blackpool Operatic Players are staging a musical which features Colne legend Wallace Hartley, who led the Titanic band.

The Titanic (S)

The Titanic (S)

They played a hymn - “Nearer My God to Thee” - as the ship sank. Wallace drowned and tens of thousands attended his funeral in Colne. He is buried in Colne Cemetery and there is a statue to honour him in Albert Road.

The TV series is called “Titanic” and is written by Julian Fellowes, so it is being considered “Downton on Sea”! It is a £10m. production and will be on TV later this month.

It does show the musicians, but it appears there is no specific feature of Wallace Hartley in the series. It does have some famous actors in it, including Celia Imrie and Timothy West.

It is a four-part mini-series and tells human stories behind the tragedy of the sinkage. The disaster happened on April 14th, 1912 and caused the death of 1,517 passengers and crew.

Titanic 2 (S)

Titanic 2 (S)

And Blackpool Operatic Players pays homage to the maiden voyage and especially to the ship’s musicians led by Wallace Hartley in “Titanic The Musical”. They have even visited Wallace’s grave.

One of the most poignant images is that of the small orchestra playing on deck to the last moment as the freezing Atlantic waters engulfed the ship. Wallace and his courageous musicians - all of whom perished - achieved legendary fame in their efforts to calm and comfort the passengers that night.

Wallace was born in Colne on June 2nd, 1878. The family lived in Greenfield Road. His father, Albion Hartley, was choirmaster at Bethel Methodist Chapel, where he introduced and popularised “Nearer My God To Thee”.

His funeral took place on May 18th, 1912, with 1,000 people attending. And 30,000 people lined the streets of Colne.

Ed at the grave of Wallace Hartley (S)

Ed at the grave of Wallace Hartley (S)

The Players are performing “Titanic the Musical” at The Grand Theatre, Blackpool, from April 11th to 14th at 7-30 p.m. each evening and matinees on Thursday and Saturday at 2 p.m. For tickets, phone the theatre box office on 01253 290190.

The Players’ publicity chief, Karen Gray, said the show had gone down well when they staged it six years ago, and added: “It is because of this that we had no hesitation in applying again to perform this show in the centenary year.

“We will also be on stage on Saturday, April 14th, performing our final show as Titanic was sailing towards that iceberg exactly 100 years ago.”