Annual Conference and Dinner

History of Diving Conference


Organised by the Historical Diving Society

Bookings open via the shop

The 29th Annual Conference on the History of Diving will be held at Subsea 7, 40 Brighton Road, Sutton, SM2 5BN on Saturday the 19th October.

The speakers for this year’s conference are:

Richard Castle

Richard’s wide ranging career has included spells in the armed forces, the College of Maritime Studies, the University of Southampton, Southampton City Council and the Ministry of Defence where he spent 10 years working at the Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory, for much of that time in the Atmospheric Diving Group.


During the 1970s various types of one-man atmospheric diving systems were investigated by the Ministry of Defence to enable their divers to work at ever greater depths. Richard’s talk will focus on a system known as JIM and the various experiments undertaken, as well as the type of training to meet the requirements of the Royal Navy and Directorate of Marine Salvage. The talk will also include the viability of using Civil Service staff on such work, when British companies were already producing successful one-man submersibles with proven track records.


Doctor Colin Martin

Dr Colin Martin is a retired Reader in Maritime Archaeology at the University of St Andrews. He has worked on post-medieval shipwrecks in Scottish and Irish waters, including three Spanish Armada vessels, two small 17th century warships, and an early 18th century Dutch East Indiaman. Recently, with his wife Dr Paula Martin, he has been recording previously unpublished finds from two Dutch East Indiamen in Shetland.

Many post-medieval shipwrecks around the British Isles attracted contemporary salvage, and records of these activities constitute a history of diving and diving equipment before the hard-hat era. In the course of his archaeological work on shipwrecks around the British Isles Colin Martin has come across descriptions of early salvage in the archives, and has been able to relate this to the real-life topography and hazards of the wrecks on which he and these pioneers have dived. They range from 17th century bell-diving on the Tobermory Armada wreck (an accessible flask of whisky was considered essential for ‘refreshing the stomach under Water’) to the remarkable achievements of Captain Jacob Rowe on the Armada wreck on Fair Isle, the Dutch East Indiaman Adelaar on Barra, and the Tobermory wreck. Salvage of treasure from two other Dutch East Indiamen on the Out Skerries of Shetland involved local divers who followed in Rowe’s footsteps. In the talk we will tell the stories of these brave adventurers and visit the wrecks on which they dived.


Nigel Phillips

Nigel Phillips is an antiquarian bookseller (and has been throughout his career).  He is also a collector of diving books, an interest which culminated in the recent publication of a 2-volume bibliographical history of diving up to the introduction of the standard dress, the produce of over 40 years of research in the libraries and archives of many countries.


His talk will examine the important developments of diving apparatus up to the introduction of standard dress, a few of the unimportant but curious ones, and what the critical developments were that enabled the helmet and dress to be produced.


The fourth speaker for 2019 will be announced shortly.  Watch this space!





Subsea7, 40 Brighton Road, Sutton, SM2 5BN

The International Historical Diving Conference for 2019, organised by the Historical Diving Society, will be held at the UK offices of Subsea7 on Saturday 19th October.  

The conference hotel is the Holiday Inn, Gibson Road, Sutton, SM1 2RF.   

Hotel Bed and Breakfast rates are £99 for single or double occupancy.  To obtain this rate enter the booking code HD4.

Accommodation has been reserved for the Society for the Friday and Saturday nights (18/19th October).  Any rooms not booked 28 working days prior to the conference will be released for general sale.

Conference ticket price is £45, including refreshments and lunch.




The Society’s Annual Dinner will be held at the conference hotel, the Holiday Inn, Sutton, on the evening of Saturday 19th October.

Dinner ticket price is £45.  Please ensure that the Secretary is made aware of any dietary requirements and seating preferences:

[email protected]





Subsea7’s 5-storey, 17,500 square metre £39 million office building was completed in 2016.  To be able to hold a conference on diving history in a building devoted to developing and using the very latest underwater engineering systems is a unique opportunity and the Society is extremely grateful to Subsea7 for their support.


The conference hotel is a short walk from Subsea7 and a 10-minute walk from Sutton station which has 4 trains per hour to London Victoria, a 30-minute journey.