Letter from 1893 leads to the discovery of precious artefact:
Story traced back to a 1983 letter
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.