Mark’s History: How Farnley musician avoided Titanic disaster

Farnley Hill Methodist Chapel
Farnley Hill Methodist Chapel. Photo: Mark Stevenson

Musician Wallace Hartley at one time used to play music at Collinson’s Cafe on King Edward Street in town, which is now the Jigsaw clothes shop, writes Mark Stevenson.

He was now a bandmaster, and I wonder if he remembered the conversation he had with his good friend Elwand Moody, who was born in Farnley.

It was one of those conversations you might have with a friend while you are just chilling out and talking randomly about anything.

Elwand asked Wallace what he would do if he was on a sinking ship, and Wallace replied he would play his favourite song.

True to his word when Wallace Hartley was on a sinking ship – namely the Titanic – and that is exactly what he did with the rest of his band while the ship was sinking. Nearer, My God, to Thee is thought to have been the song being played. 

Wallace had asked Elwand if he would join his band on the Titanic but Elwand decided he wanted a break before his next job as a musician on a ship and went home instead.

Elwand Moody was born in Farnley and lived at 51 Cross Lane, roughly where the Post Box is at Farnley Village Green.

Farnley Hill Methodist Chapel. Photo: Mark Stevenson

He was baptised at Farnley Hill Methodist Chapel in 1882 and became a professional cellorist.


Local news is in crisis. Can you help?

These are challenging times for local news providers – and producing your daily dose of West Leeds Dispatch comes at a cost!

We’re a small, community-led news organisation which needs your support to keep delivering quality journalism. We want to continue to maintain our openness and protect our precious independence – and above all to connect people with what’s happening in their part of West Leeds. Every reader contribution, big or small, helps us to do that.

For as little as £4 a month (£1 a week) you can support us – and it only takes a minute.

Or set up a standing order with your bank: Contact us on if you’d like to do this.

Your support will make a difference. Thank you.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.