A SHIP ‘S bell will ring out again after a hundred years in the village that gave the paddle-driven minesweeper its name.

The bell, which once belonged to HMS Shincliffe, has been brought to the village, near Durham, after being found by chance in a dusty box in an antiques shop.

It will rededicated and used to signal the start of silence at a Remembrance Sunday service in St Mary’s Church, Shincliffe, at 10.30am on November 11.

During the course of the First World War, the Admiralty commissioned the building of 36 Racecourse-class paddle-driven minesweepers – all named after racecourses around the UK. Shincliffe Racecourse held its last meeting in May 1914.

Retired GP Dr John Charters, who was behind the campaign bring the bell home, said: “A friend of ours was going to France and was in Portsmouth when he walked into an antiques shop and came across this bell in a dusty old box.

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“It was for sale he sent an email jokingly asking my wife if she would like to get it for my birthday - it’s only £1,500, he said.

“I saw it and thought straight away the village should have that.”

He added: “We were going to France the following week, so I stopped off when I went to the ferry and put a deposit down on it.

“On our return home we formed a little committee and started raising money.

“It touched a nerve in the village and we raised £4,000 in six weeks, through a concert with the Pittington Brass Band and other events.

“We were able to buy it, as well as get it cleaned up and polished and had a stand made for it.”

Dr Charters, who once served as medical officer in the Royal Navy Reserves said: “I thought with the centenary of the Armistice coming up it would be a great way to mark it in the village It has been a real stimulus in bringing the village people together.

“In the past two years, since we acquired the bell, there have been many more village events and get-togethers, which has generated a tremendous community spirit.”

HMS Shincliffe was built in Dundee in 1918 and was the last of the Racecourse-class paddle-driven steamers to enter service. She was armed with a couple of 12-pounder guns and had a crew of 52.

The vessel was based on the Firth of Forth in Scotland and after the Armistice helped clear the North Sea of mines.

During this time two crew members Philip Lynch and Ordinary Seaman Albert Swindle, both from Tyneside, were lost overboard.

She was eventually decommissioned in early 1920 and sold at the end of 1921 to ship-breakers.

Although all of the Racecourse-class vessels were scrapped, a few were sold to excursion companies and operated day trips to France. HMS Melton – under her peacetime name of Queen of Thanet – rescued soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk.