Diver fathoms out Hastings wreck riddle as name of vessel rings bell

Pete Hodkin shows off his prize catch the bell from the SS Ladoga

From the Hastings Observer

A diver has fathomed the mystery of a century old shipwreck after making a fascinating discovery.

A century old mystery of the identity of a shipwreck off the coast of Hastings may have finally been solved after a diver made a fascinating discovery.

Pete Hodkin was diving what has been known for many years in diving circles as ‘Wreck 355’ when he discovered the ships bell bearing its real name – The SS Ladoga.

The 52-year-old had gone out about five miles as part of a diving party from Mid Herts Divers on board a boat run by Dive 125 based in Eastbourne.

He had dived to the wreck around 25 metres and was inspecting the ship’s anchor chain around 4.30pm last Saturday when he came across what he thought was an old plate buried in the sand.

“I was swimming along when I suddenly saw something round in the sand,” said Pete. “It was in a jumbled up mess of steelwork.

“At first I thought it was a plate. As I got a bit closer I thought it could be a bucket but as I picked it up I realised it was a bell. And I thought ‘Wow what a find!’

“It was shiny, about 5kg in weight and in good condition and had the inscription SS Ladoga 1892 London.

“I was really excited - it was the most exciting thing I had ever found.

“Locating a bell is one of the most valuable things a diver can ever find. It is usually the only positive means of identification of a boat.”

Records show that the SS Ladoga disappeared after a collision off the coast of Hastings on March 15, 1903. Three men lost their lives.

It was a steam cargo ship that was built by William Doxford and Sons Ltd in Sunderland in 1892.

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