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Titanic tribute to tragic Dumfries musician

An artists impression of the �400 million Titanic II, which is to be built in China. Picture: Reuters

An artists impression of the �400 million Titanic II, which is to be built in China. Picture: Reuters

  • by DEREK LAMBIE
 

THE great niece of a Scottish musician who played on as the Titanic sank is to embark on a trip aboard a replica of the doomed vessel to complete her relative’s unfinished journey.

Yvonne Hume’s great uncle John was just 21 when he perished in the icy waters of the Atlantic alongside 1,516 others in the early hours of 15 April, 1912.

Born in Dumfries, the first violinist was one of eight band members who carried on playing as the liner began to sink.

Now Hume, 58, aims to pay tribute to his bravery by ­bec­oming one of the first ­passengers on board the new Titanic and sailing the same Southampton to New York route.

Last month Australian billionaire Clive Palmer unveiled plans to build an exact replica of the ill-fated White Star liner at a cost of £400 million and set sail in time for the 104th anniversary of the tragedy in 2016.

Hume, a mother-of-three from Norfolk, has written to the Brisbane-based mining tycoon about her family ties.

She wrote: “I would love to go on this, I want to go on this. Creating a new ­Titanic is a wonderful idea and will give us all an insight into what life was like on board in 1912.

“I know it will be haunting and emotional, but I feel I need to go on the journey and experience exactly what my great uncle would have experienced as he set sail on ­Titanic for the first time.

“I want to see the sheer luxury and splendour he faced for myself. More than that, I want to complete the journey Uncle John never finished on Titanic.”

Construction work on the new Titanic II is set to get under way in China later in the spring, with more than 40,000 people having registered for tickets on the maiden voyage.

The online sales brochure heralds “the return of a legend” and promises “an authentic Titanic experience” with the ship, including a replica of the original grand staircase, the same cabin lay-outs, and a gym complete with Edwardian exercise machines.

Dining options, from the stylish Café Parisien and the lavish three-deck a la carte restaurant to the basic third-class canteen, will also be recreated in intricate detail.

Titanic II will offer opulent suites and luxurious first-class cabins, as well as second-class and steerage accommodation. Each will be a faithful copy of the original and, as on board the 1912 vessel, passengers in different classes will not be allowed to mingle.

Mobile phones will be banned, there will be no internet or TV, and the only 21st- century additions will be air conditioning, a hospital, a helicopter landing pad and a modern fleet of lifeboats.

The original Titanic set out on its maiden voyage to New York on 10 April, 1912 with 2,223 people on board. It hit an iceberg in clear and calm conditions at around 11:40pm on 14 April and sank in less than three hours.

John Law Hume had worked on at least five other cruise liners before joining the band on Titanic as the first violinist. The second-class ticket holder was paid just £4 a month and was determined to save up enough money to start a family. His fiancée, Mary Costin, was already expecting their first child and the couple were due to marry when he ret­urned from the transatlantic crossing three weeks later.

As the stricken liner flooded, he and his seven bandmates saw it as their duty to play until the end. Just seven minutes before the ship sank they were still playing the sombre Nearer My God To Thee.

Their performance as the ship sank has been well ­documented, and was portrayed in the Oscar-winning movie Titanic starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet.

Hume, an author who has written books about her great uncle and the Titanic, said: “Uncle John was so young and so brave. The courage he displayed on that fateful night went beyond his years.

“I think he knew how it would end and yet he still stood there. I went to visit his grave in Nova Scotia last year and I felt at the time I had a sense of closure. But being able to complete his unfinished journey would take that one step further – it would be real closure.”

Launching his project last month, Clive Palmer said the new Titanic would be “a ship where dreams will come true”. He added that he wanted the maiden voyage to “complete the journey” of those who left Southampton but perished in 1912.

 

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