Birmingham & Black Country

New memorial for Titanic cellist after £1,000 pledged

A new memorial to a musician who died in the Titanic disaster will be put up in the Black Country after people pledged more than £1,000.

John Woodward, who was 32, played the cello in the band that "played on" when the ship sank in April 1912.

His body was never found, but he is commemorated on the family gravestone at Heath Lane cemetery, West Bromwich.

The sandstone gravestone is crumbling away and a fundraising campaign for a new memorial was launched last week.

Since the story appeared on BBC Midlands Today his distant cousins, Mike Woodward and his 12-year-old son, John, have come forward.

"Until I saw it on television last week, I wasn't aware that there was a memorial to him in West Bromwich and it was a complete surprise to see that he'd been recognised so close to home," said Mr Woodward.

"The eight bandsmen who died on the Titanic are all heroes and it's a great honour to be related to a man who's gone down in history and who will hopefully always be remembered with pride and honour."

'Real honour'

Most of John Woodward's family moved from the Black Country to Oxford, where he is commemorated on a brass plaque in All Saints Church, Headington.

The new marble memorial in West Bromwich will feature the engraving from the original gravestone.

Mr Woodward said: "It's a real honour that John is remembered in the way that he is and that people have come forward and donated money.

"It's a real pleasure to know that people haven't forgotten him, I can only say thank you from a small band of the Woodward family that's left."

One of the people who donated money for the memorial is former salvage engineer, John Pierce.

He led a salvage operation of the RMS Lusitania in 1982 - a liner which sank after being hit by torpedo fire in 1915.

Mr Pierce said: "The eight musicians all played until the Titanic went down and out of all the stories I've heard about the 100 years anniversary [of the sinking] this was a very human story."

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