About the bell
The SS Dicky bell was a significant piece of equipment salvaged from the wreck. The bell, made of bronze, was engraved with the ships name and launch year (1883).
The bells most important function was to announce the ship's position during heavy fog, or warn of emergencies such as a fire onboard.
The bell was also used to tell time. The bell was rung in a distinct pattern each time the "ship's boys" turned the hourglass (which held 30 minutes of sand). That pattern told sailors how far they were into their watch. So "eight bells and all's well" meant that the sailors had uneventfully reached the end of their watch.
Before the advent of time zones, the only way to accurately tell time at sea was to confirm "high noon" using a sextant and the sun. The bell ringing pattern for noon is: 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells, pause, 2 bells.
The SS Dicky bell would also have been rung as an honour salute to announce visiting officers or other dignitaries.