Titanic plaque campaigner is chasing funds

Peter Goldsmith with the memorial plaque
Peter Goldsmith with the memorial plaque

A CAMPAIGN to restore a plaque commemorating the life of an Eastbourne-based musician who died aboard the Titanic is fast gathering pace.

John Wesley Woodward played cello in the ship’s orchestra and was part of the outfit which famously played while the ship sank into the icy waters, claiming the lives of 1,517 people on April 15, 1912.

And, with the 100th anniversary of the disaster fast approaching, Eastbourne man Peter Goldsmith is busy trying to gather funds to restore the seafront memorial.

Mr Goldsmith needs around £1,200 to spruce up the existing brass and is banking on raising the cash before the plaque deteriorates further and becomes unreadable for future generations.

However, he was quick to point out the work would be restoration rather than replacement.

“The idea seems to have caused a bit of a stir, particularly among the family of the original sculptor Charles Godfrey Garrard.

“My intention was never to replace it, only to restore it to its former glories,” explained Mr Goldsmith.

And it seems he is getting close to having enough cash to do so – as long as people pay up on their pledges.

“We have had quite a few people promise money to go toward the work, including the Langham Hotel which has pledged £400 toward the cost,” said Mr Goldsmith.

“The problem I am having though is collecting the money people have promised. If anyone who has offered to help is reading this can they get in touch and give over their money because if everyone does we are nearly there.”

The original plaque was actually commissioned by newspaper publisher Arthur Beckett, whose family used to own the Gazette series.

The rectangular granite memorial was positioned facing the bandstand and in its centre sits a bronze portrait of Mr Woodward alongside an inscribed plaque and a second plaque showing the sinking of the ship and lifeboats.

A Titanic heritage group in the US has already agreed to fund £400 of the restoration – meaning it may not be long until the restoration work can get underway.

“Hopefully we can get the plaque restored sooner rather than later. I was born in Eastbourne and have seen this (the memorial) deteriorate over time and hopefully we can do something before it is gone forever.”

Any Herald readers wanting to get involved can contact Mr Goldsmith via the newspaper by calling 414483 or emailing richard.morris@trbeckett.co.uk.