Express & Star

New memorial stone for West Bromwich cellist on Titanic

It is 100 years since brave West Bromwich cellist John Wesley Woodward lost his life aboard the Titanic, and this centenary year a new memorial stone has been put up in his honour.


The family memorial has stood in Heath Lane Cemetery for decades and marks his death aboard the ill-fated cruise liner.

Up until recently the Sandstone monument had not weathered well, and two Black Country residents feared it would crumble into ruin if it was not replaced soon.

But now thanks to kind donations from the Black Country Housing Group, members of the community and Mr Woodward's family the musician finally has the memorial he fully deserves.

Mr Woodward, a former Hill Top resident, was one of 1,517 people who lost their lives during the Titanic's tragic maiden voyage. The 32-year-old was one of the musicians who "played on " when the ship sank in April 15, 1912.

Paul Kidson, who is a committee member of Willenhall Historical Society, and friend Lorna Jenkins discovered the gravestone by accident while walking through the cemetery to visit the grave of her great uncle William Doughty.

They were shocked to see the monument had eroded badly and were so concerned they launched a campaign with the help of the Express and Star to restore the old stone. Thanks to the publicity and with the help of Sandwell borough bereavement services the pair were able to raise the £900 to replace the stone, and at a special ceremony yesterday, the new stone was unveiled.

A number of Mr Woodward's family attended, along with representatives from the cemetery and the council.

Mr Kidson of School Street said: "It was a wonderful occasion, a perfect bright crisp morning to remember John Woodward. When I unveiled the memorial there were gasps from people, because it is such a beautiful stone. I am so pleased that we were able to do this, and so grateful for all the kind donations that made this possible."

The 80-year-old added: " Lorna and I felt it was so important to remember him properly." John Woodward's great great nephew Christopher Meeson, found out about the campaign through the media coverage.

The father of four from Warwick knew about his family links to the Titanic and the West Bromwich area, but did not know about the stone in the cemetery.

He said: "As soon as I heard about it I contacted Paul, to lend our support." He added: "I am very proud to be related to such a brave man. For him to continue playing whilst the ship was sinking, and for his music to offer some comfort to those in that terrifying situation makes me feel very proud. I think it is extremely important that his bravery is recognised."

He added: "I am very pleased that the memorial will be there for many generations to come."

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