HAVING been for many years interested in the Titanic and its tragic loss in April 1912 I read with interest of the plaque at the Eastbourne Bandstand being refurbished.
Also having being a musician all my life its always nice to see a tribute to the five men who instead of trying to save their own lives stayed playing tunes and hymns up to the time the ship went below the waves.
John Wesley Woodward, although he played with three orchestra’s - Eastbourne, Duke of Devonshire’s and the the famous Grand Hotel, Eastbourne - was in fact born in West Bromwich in the Midlands, and at the time of his death in 1912 was living with his mother in Headington, Oxfordshire.
There are a number of other memorials and plaques to John around the country. There are two in Southampton where the ship left from; in Boston USA in the lobby of the Boston Symphony Orchestra; Broken Hill, Australia; again in Australia on the bandstand in Ballaratt; the Liverpool Philharmonic Hall; and at the Institute of the National Orchestra Association, Archer Street, London (well-known zone for musicians over many years).
In Headington there is a brass plaque to his memory at the All Saints Church.
The memorial at Eastbourne Bandstand was instigated by Arthur Beckett, a newspaper publisher, in 1914 he had the granite memorial put up to John and which is now Grade II listed.
He was born on the 11 September 1879 so on his death aged 32 was a highly-regarded cello player. He had crossed the Atlantic on many occasions and was on the Titanic’s sister ship the Olympic when it collided with HMS Hawk.
John was in the cabin that the warship struck, he and three others managed to escape but not without difficulty.
Sadly his body was never found and the estate which one assumes he left to his mother Martha and was in 1912 considerable at £1,195.000.
Bakers Farm Park, Upper Horsebridge
Pictured: Peter Goldsmith who has successfully campaigned for repair work to be carried out to the plaque at Eastbourne Bandstand.