Let­ter from 1893 leads to the dis­cov­ery of pre­cious arte­fact:

Story traced back to a 1983 let­ter

Sunshine Coast Daily - Caloundra Weekly - - FRONT PAGE -

FOR many years, the story of the famed bell from the SS

Dicky ship­wreck was a mys­tery.

That was un­til the dis­cov­ery of a 1983 let­ter writ­ten by the bell’s past owner, the late ILB Hen­der­son.

The let­ter was found in the Dicky Beach Surf Club’s

SS Dicky mem­o­ra­bilia col­lec­tion.

It told the story of the bell’s jour­ney and how it came to be in the pos­ses­sion of the Hen­der­son fam­ily.

The let­ter, dated Fe­bru­ary 24, 1983, ex­plained that the bell came into the pos­ses­sion of the Hen­der­son fam­ily when ILB Hen­der­son’s fa­ther, Hec­tor, pur­chased it at an auc­tion of the ship’s fit­tings.

For many years, the bell was used as a “time sig­nal” in the fam­ily’s busi­ness, Sun En­gi­neer­ing Works, alert­ing work­ers to their start and knock-off time.

Fol­low­ing Hec­tor’s pass­ing in 1930, the busi­ness was closed and the bell was in­stalled at the fam­ily res­i­dence in Nor­man Park where his daugh­ter Doris lived.

The bell re­mained there for around 40 years un­til Doris re­lo­cated to Corinda, and af­ter her pass­ing, the bell was moved to ILB Hen­der­son’s home in Red­land Bay, where it re­mained un­til 2001.

When ILB Hen­der­son passed away in 2001, his son Rus­sell be­came cus­to­dian of the bell and re­mains so to­day, keep­ing it in pride of place at his home in Padding­ton.

Un­til 2013, the where­abouts of the bell re­mained a mys­tery to Sun­shine Coast lo­cals.

It wasn’t un­til lo­cal res­i­dent Peter Magee dis­cov­ered a copy of a 1964 let­ter from the pres­i­dent of the Queens­land Women’s His­tor­i­cal So­ci­ety to a Dr Hen­der­son (ILB Hen­der­son’s brother), of­fer­ing to buy the bell should the fam­ily ever de­cide to sell it.

Dr Hen­der­son had ar­ranged to loan the bell to the so­ci­ety for the un­veil­ing of the SS Dicky pro­pel­ler plaque in 1963.

From this let­ter, Peter Magee traced the his­tory of Dr Hen­der­son which led him to lo­cate Rus­sell at his home in Padding­ton, and the miss­ing pieces of the story be­gan to come to­gether.

In 2016, Rus­sell gen­er­ously loaned the bell to coun­cil to al­low for three replicas to be made by Olds En­gi­neer­ing for use in their her­itage dis­plays.

For more in­for­ma­tion on the Dicky Beach Precinct Plan, visit coun­cil’s website.


SHIP HAP­PENS: SS Dicky task­force’s Gra­ham Smith and Colin White, with bell owner Rus­sell Hen­der­son.

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