A DIVER has identified a shipwreck that has lain on the seabed for more than 109 years.

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Pete Hodkin, who is the training officer for Mid Herts Divers in Welwyn Garden City, was diving what has been known for many years as ‘wreck 355’ when he discovered the ships bell bearing its real name – the SS Ladoga.

He 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 Mid Herts Divers, from a boat run by Dive 125, which is based in Eastbourne, when he made the discovery last Saturday.

Pete, who lives in Lower Stondon, Beds, said: “Before jumping in, the boat’s skipper told us to bring up anything we find that might help identify the wreck.

“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’.

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

It was a steam cargo ship that was built by William Doxford and Sons Ltd in Sunderland in 1892. It was renamed SS Miraflores in 1900.

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.

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 World War Two.

“We now know that 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 has helped identify.

Some of the other wrecks it has named include the War Monarch, Clara, and Ville de Bordeaux in Eastbourne.

For more information on Mid Herts Divers visit www.midhertsdivers.com

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