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John Lightfoot, chairman of South Shields, UK based Solar Solve Marine became personally involved with the Joseph Bell Memorial Appeal when he read that the people who planned to refurbish Joseph Bell’s Memorial gravestone were having to work extremely hard to raise the money to carry out the work.

Tarn to Titanic – Life and Times of Joseph Bell; is the title of a newly published book about the Chief of the brave band of Marine Engineers and their Engine Room colleagues who stayed down at their posts and ultimately perished there, to keep the lights on during the Titanic disaster, so that as many passengers as possible might survive. Bravery indeed!

The book is a biography of Joseph Bell, recording the history of his family and their farm in Farlam, Cumbria and his career with White Star Line where he attained the rank of Senior Chief Engineer. It was produced by joint authors Barrie Bell Hodgson and Ann Freer to represent a permanent record of the man, his achievements and his bravery and to also provide funds from its sale to help with the objectives of the appeal.

Whilst appreciating that most of us receive requests for help by deserving good causes almost daily, John wanted to bring the appeal to the attention of people who are closely involved with Marine Engineering, the wider Marine Industry and mariners globally. He is confident that there are enough individual Merchant Navy personnel from all over the world, especially the Marine Engineers, who would be happy to buy a copy of the book or make a small donation to help Barrie Bell Hodgson and his team achieve their very admirable objective for the benefit of our great profession.

In 2012, to recognise the 100th Anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic, researchers found Joseph Bell’s Memorial headstone to be in poor condition and hidden in an overgrown part of the old churchyard area of St. Thomas-a-Becket church in Farlam, Cumbria, UK. There is absolutely nothing to indicate where it is, although the headstone itself does pay tribute to Joseph’s bravery, if you are lucky enough to stumble upon it.

The objective of the appeal is to clean the surface of the headstone, re-point the lettering and seal it. To create an information point at the entrance in the cemetery wall detailing the importance of the Memorial, with a plan of where the Bell family plots are located and to create an access path to them. If funds allow, to clear a wider area around the other old gravestones within the immediate area to make the Memorial more presentable. Funds will also need to be retained to cover regular maintenance and upkeep of the footpath and grass cutting.

Copies of ‘Tarn to Titanic’ priced £10 plus post & packing, are now available by credit card from Books Cumbria and can be accessed via their website or email or phone +44 1228 529067.

Donations of £5, £10, £20 or any other amount can be made by cheque, made payable to ‘The Joseph Bell Memorial Appeal’ and sent to Barrie Bell Hodgson, 17 Sandringham Close, Winsford, Cheshire, CW7 2RT, UK.  Donating by Bank Transfer is another option; just email: for details.

Top Image – Ann Freer points out to John Lightfoot the deteriorating lettering on Joseph Bell’s Memorial Headstone, something that they intend to restore with the funds raised as a result of the appeal.

Below Image – Tarn To Titanic Book Cover.
Tarn To Titanic Book Cover

Below Image – Whilst the trio of gravestones that go to make up the Bell family plot are not so far away from the road, access for visitors is very uninviting a can be somewhat hazardous. This, along with some suitable signage at the entrance gate, is one of the projects that will be undertaken using the appeal funds.

View of poor access to Joseph Bell headstone