Divers find wreck of Sunderland ship 109 years after she sank

Pete Hodkin holding the bell from the SS Ladoga.
Pete Hodkin holding the bell from the SS Ladoga.
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A SUNDERLAND-BUILT ship has been found more than a century after she vanished.

For years, divers have been exploring what was known as wreck 355, near Hastings.

Doxford shipyard poster

Doxford shipyard poster

Now, the site has been identified as the last resting place of the The SS Ladoga, built on Wearside in 1892 and missing since she was involved in a collision 11 years later.

Diver Pete Hodkin, from Lower Stondon in Bedfordshire, discovered the wreck’s identity when he found the ship’s bell.

Pete, who is the training officer for Mid Herts Divers in Welwyn Garden City, said: “Finding a bell is one of the most exciting and valuable things a diver could find.

“It is usually the only positive means of identification.”

Pete was diving with 11 other members of the club from a boat run by Eastbourne-based Dive 125 when he made the discovery on Saturday.

“Before jumping in, the boats skipper told us to bring up anything we find that might help identify the wreck,” he said.

“I was swimming along when I saw something round in the sand. 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.”

The brass bell bears the words “SS Ladoga 1892 London.”

The Lagoda was a steam cargo ship, built by William Doxford and Sons in Sunderland in 1892, and renamed SS Miraflores in 1900.

Records show the ship disappeared after a collision off the coast of Hastings on March 15, 1903.

Dave Ronnan, the co-owner of Dive 125 said a number of artefacts had been found on the site over the years including a Wedgewood Cup, which had concealed the wreck’s identity for years.

Dave, who has dived the wreck many times himself said: “The cup was made between 1940 and 1950.

“This led us to believe that the ship was probably a casualty of the Second World War.

“We now know the ship sank in 1903. So, how the cup got there is a mystery.

“It was possibly dropped from an angling or dive boat.

“It just shows how incidental finds may not be conclusive.”

The find has been reported to the Receiver of Wrecks and the site will now be given its real name.

The SS Lagoda will be the ninth wreck Dive 125 have helped identify.

l Do you have any SS Ladoga memorabilia? Call the Echo newsdwesk on 501 7326.

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