A VIOLIN thought to have belonged to the Colne bandmaster who played on as the Titanic sank could have been found 99 years since the disaster.

Tests are being carried out on a violin thought to have belonged to Wallace Hartley, who famously played on as the White Star Liner sank in April 1912.

And if the instrument turns out to be genuine experts believe it could break the £100,000 record for an artefact from the wreck.

Author Steve Turner, who wrote The Band Played On detailing the lives of Hartley and his band, has seen pictures of the violin.

He said: “Other than retrieving the bow of the ship, this must be the most symbolic artefact of the Titanic sinking ever likely to be sold.”

An inscription on the violin ‘For Wallace on the occasion of our engagement, from Maria’, is thought to be a vital clue, as are initials ‘WHH’ on the tailpiece.

The speculation is that the violin was retained by Hartley’s fiance Maria, who never remarried after her traumatic loss, and handed down through her family.

When Hartley’s body was repatriated at Liverpool, and collected by his father Albion, the violin was nowhere to be seen.

According to official records in Novia Scotia, following the disaster, the instrument was also not listed among the personal effects of the 33-year-old.

Devizes-based auctioneers Henry Aldridge, a renowned seller of Titantic memorabilia, has custody of the violin.

Spokesman Andrew Aldridge said: “I can confirm we are in the process of running tests on the violin. But until the scientific and historical checks have been completed we will be making no further comment.”

For the centenary of Hartley’s death a series of events are being held in Colne, including a concert at the Municipal Hall and the composition of a special piece by Peter Young.

Hartley and his band are reputed to have played Nearer My God To Thee as the liner sank in the Atlantic.