Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Painting to honour heroic Titanic bandleader on display in Leeds

Caption: 'The Outward Bound' by Frederick Caley Robinson, 1912, features an image of the ill-fated Titanic (image courtesy of Leeds museums and galleries service)

A painting created to honour of one of the heroes of the Titanic disaster has gone on display at Leeds Art Gallery this week to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the ill-fated ship.

Violinist Wallace Hartley was the leader of the eight-piece band who sacrificed their own hopes of survival and played hymns in an attempt to calm passengers on the doomed liner which sank with the loss of over 1,500 lives in the early hours of Monday 15 April 1912 after striking an iceberg on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

The 33-year-old Dewsbury resident who was born in Colne in Lancashire famously led the band in playing the hymn ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ according to reports in the final moments before the so-called ‘unsinkable ship’ slipped to the bottom of the North Atlantic Ocean approximately 400 miles off the coast of Newfoundland.

The band were widely considered heroes for remaining at their posts to the last, with their tale capturing the public mood of shock and grief at the tragedy as shown by the estimated 40,000 people who lined the streets of Colne for Hartley’s funeral.

At the time of his death Hartley was a member of The Leeds Professional Musicians, and shortly after the sinking the group commissioned noted British symbolist artist Frederick Caley Robinson (1862-1927) to produce an oil painting to honour him.

The resulting canvas image entitled ‘The Outward Bound’ is a soulful, melancholic scene showing a lone figure aboard a small boat watching as the Titanic, at the time the largest and grandest ship ever built, leaves harbour in the distance shrouded in ghostly mist.

The group presented the painting to the city of Leeds in December 1912, and it has been part of Leeds City Council’s museums and galleries service collection ever since.

It was last on display in 2005 shortly before Leeds Art Gallery underwent a major refurbishment, but it is now once again on show to coincide with the memorial events and activities being held around the world to mark the 100th anniversary of Titanic’s sinking.

Leeds Art Gallery’s curator of contemporary art Nigel Walsh said:

“Widely reported at the time, the Titanic disaster caught the public imagination and continues to do so. The story of Wallace Hartley and his bandmates is one of the iconic elements of the tragedy, and we are delighted to have ‘The Outward Bound’ in the collection in Leeds and now back on public display again at the gallery.”

The Outward Bound by Frederick Caley Robinson can now been seen at Leeds Art Gallery, off the Headrow in Leeds city centre. Admission to the gallery is free.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472

Leeds set to strengthen armed forces ties with new covenant

An agreement to forge closer ties between Leeds City Council and members of the armed forces in the city will be discussed by senior councillors today.

A proposal to offer greater access to council services to current or retired armed forces personnel, as well as improved housing options to those leaving the forces, is recommended to be approved by the council’s executive board.

By adopting the Armed Forces Community Covenant, the council and its partners would be committed to assisting active or former servicemen and women to have full access to services.

In addition, armed forces personnel with a local connection to Leeds who approach the council for assistance in being rehoused after leaving the forces would be able to benefit from a direct offer of accommodation if they are unable to secure housing through the existing Choice Based Lettings Scheme.

The direct let option will mean an offer of rehousing can be made to the serviceman or woman before they have been formally discharged from the armed forces, with the aim of easing the transition from service life to civilian life and ensuring that they are not disadvantaged.

The proposals are the result of discussions which have taken place between Leeds City Council and representatives of the armed forces and the Royal British Legion following a white paper motion approved at the full council meeting in November 2011 to set up such a covenant to formalise stronger links between the services and the council.

Ministry of Defence figures show that there are currently approximately 395 individuals in Leeds receiving either a war disablement or war widows pension or compensation from the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, while approximately 330 new recruits from Leeds have joined the armed forces over the last five years.

Coupled with a programme of voluntary and compulsory redundancies which is currently ongoing within the armed forces, it is expected a number of forces personnel will be returning to Leeds over the course of the next year.

Leader of Leeds City Council Councillor Keith Wakefield said:

“As a city Leeds is fully committed to supporting our servicemen and women both while they are active within the armed forces and especially so when they leave the forces and return to civilian life.

“This can be an incredibly trying time as they seek to readjust, and it is hugely important that we do all we can to ensure that those who have put their lives on the line in service of our country are not placed at a disadvantage. We are immensely proud of the work of all our servicemen and women and so as a city this is the least we can do to say thank you and offer them all the help and support we can.

“Only 20 people leaving the armed forces last year stated Leeds as a destination, so there is a small but significant number of families who need our support. Of course, it is crucial that servicemen and women find somewhere to live when they leave the forces. Not everyone returning to Leeds will need our assistance to find a property, but the new direct let system will enable people to secure housing before they even leave the services. This will hopefully take a lot of the stress and uncertainty out of their transition from service life to civilian life back in Leeds.”

By agreeing the covenant, organisations, groups and individuals working to ensure its success and effectiveness will be able to apply for project funding of between £100 and £250,000 from an overall Ministry of Defence national grant scheme of £30million.


For media enquiries please contact:
Roger Boyde, Senior communications officer,
Leeds City Council, Tel 0113 247 5472