Ian Mackenzie of the HMS Lowestoft Association has asked me to help find the missing ship’s bell.
Lowestoft F103 was a Type-12 anti-submarine frigate commissioned in 1961 and served all over the world until she was decommissioned in 1985 and sunk as a target in 1986.
When a Royal Navy ship is built a bell is cast by the shipbuilders with the ship’s name and the year of commissioning inscribed on it. It usually stays with the ship until she is decommissioned and disposed of – usually sold, sunk or scrapped.
The ship’s bell is often then donated to a town, church or other organisation that has been affiliated to the ship.
During a ship’s service life the bell is used for many tasks including ceremonial occasions and also as a font when a child of a member of the ship’s company is christened onboard. The child’s name is then inscribed on the inside of the bell.
The HMS Lowestoft Association has been trying for some years to locate the bell inscribed ‘HMS Lowestoft 1961’ as it would appear the bell was replaced some time during the 1970s by the bell from the 1914 First World War cruiser HMS Lowestoft which was loaned from the museum in the Suffolk town from which the ships took their name. This bell was returned to the museum in 1985 when the ship decommissioned. Inscriptions of christenings using the 1914 cruiser bell date from 1978 onwards.
If anyone knows where the 1961 bell is the association would like to hear from you and can be contacted via firstname.lastname@example.org.
All the usual sources such as dockyard stores and auction rooms have been tried.
The association has no desire to acquire the bell but would like to establish its location for its archives.
If you have it could you let me know.