Sunday, December 30, 2012

A Book at Bedtime

So, what took me to Dock Park in Dumfries yesterday? I went to look at the monument in the centre of the pic. Although I had visited the park before, I had completely missed the significance of this granite obelisk. Let me explain...

I love reading. Books have always been part of my life, and especially so this past year. Santa was good to me at Christmas. You can see that I'm working my way through George RR Martin's epic, and that my interests span both fiction and non-fiction, and I'm happy to read both new and second hand. If I go into a charity shop, or visit a car boot sale, I usually come away with a book or two! And I dare not go into a second hand bookshop.

Some books I enjoy more than others. These days if I'm not enjoying a book after the first few pages, it just doesn't get finished. Life's too short! But I do enjoy a 'good read'. Occasionally I find a book which is impossible to put down once I've got into it. No work gets done until the book gets finished.

That was the case with this book which was in my Christmas stocking! It's Christopher Ward's account of what happened to one particular family in the aftermath of the Titanic disaster. Enthralling! Ward is the grandson of Jock Hume, the violinist in the orchestra which played on deck as the ship was sinking. Hume was twenty-one years old, and had just learned he was going to be a father. As the jacket blurb says, "One hundred years on, Christopher Ward tells the dramatic story of love, loss and betrayal, and the catastrophic impact of Jock's death on two very different Scottish families."

It is an incredible story. I'll not spoil it by giving any more details. Do read it yourself.

(As an aside, my curling friends will be interested in the role that the old Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax played following the disaster.)

Jock Hume and a steward, Thomas Mullin, were both from the Dumfries area, and I learned from the book that a sixteen foot granite obelisk had been erected in Dock Park in the town in their memory.

And here is a photo of the base of the obelisk, with the inscription and the bronze relief of the Titanic, and a bronze scroll of the music of the hymn 'Nearer My God to Thee', which may (or may not, see here) have been the last tune the orchestra played. The monument was unveiled in a ceremony on May 31, 1913.

Christopher Ward describes the controversial awarding of the contract for the construction of the monument to a Manchester firm, Messrs Kirkpatrick Bros of Trafford Park, rather than a local company. The obelisk itself used 'the very best quality of Aberdeen granite'. The cost was £100.

The memorial is a hundred years old and has survived well, particularly the bronze reliefs.

Originally the monument was protected by iron railings but these have been removed.

1497 passengers and crew died in the North Atlantic on the night of April 14-15, 1912. Only 328 bodies were recovered. Hume and Mullin were among these and both are buried in the Fairview Lawn Cemetery in Halifax, Nova Scotia.

Read more about And the Band Played On, and about the author, at this website.

Photos © Skip Cottage


  1. If you ever feel like another job then you would do wonderfully well as Chairman and CEO of the Scottish Tourist Board. I wish that they had your enthusiasm and ability.

  2. Hi Bob - there's a Titanic connection to Moffat too apparently.
    Philip Pont's (who was minister at St.Johns in Moffat for many years)wife (Nana, I believe)was apparently a small child rescued off the ship.
    Actually the story is here:
    and here:

  3. Thanks Phil. Nina Harper's story is told here: