Welcome to issue 11 (2019) of the Historical Diving Society Newsletter. 9 September 2019

Conference Speaker line-up complete!

With 4 top-of-the-pack speakers and an amazing venue courtesy of Subsea7, this year’s conference promises to be another winner!  We look forward to seeing you there.


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 Recently, with his wife Dr Paula Martin, he has been recording previously unpublished finds from two Dutch East Indiamen in Shetland.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.

CPO(D) Andrew Marshall MBE
Chief Diver Marshall joined the RN as a direct entry Clearance Diver on the 19th Oct 1998, currently the 2IC of Southern Diving Unit One (HMNB Devonport), he has conducted Clearance Diving Operations in the Baltic Seas and in the Gulf as a Junior Rate and as a ships Coxswain. With a comprehensive history as a Military Diving Instructor at the Defence Diving School located at Horsea Island in Portsmouth, he has operated as a Ships Coxswain on board a MCMV whereby he was awarded an MBE for his efforts and contributions to Fleet Operations. He has also worked as the 2IC at Fleet Diving Unit 3 which is the Mine Investigation and Exploitation team prior to returning to UK frontline operations on an area EOD Unit, providing Military Aid to Civil Authorities against EOD and IED incidents

His talk, entitled ‘Modern day RN Clearance Diving Operations within Fleet Diving Squadron’ will present an overall perspective of Fleet Diving Squadrons (FDS) operational commitments within UK mainland and worldwide operations. Covering aspects of Area EOD teams in HMNB Clyde, HMNB Devonport and FDS HQ at Horsea Island, Portsmouth. As well as the operational commitments Fleet Diving Units 1, 2 and 3 have been involved in and the various equipment that is used across FDS.

The one-day Conference will be held at the offices of Subsea7 in Sutton, London on Saturday 19th October.  Registration is from 08.30 and the Conference commences at 09.30. Tickets for the Conference cost £45 and include refreshments and lunch  Booking is essential in order to comply with Subsea7 security and can be made on line at www.thehds.com or by post to The Secretary, Historical Diving Society, Little Gatton Lodge, 25 Gatton Rad, Reigate, RH2 0HB.  Cheques should be made out to the ‘The HDS’

The Conference will be followed by the Society’s annual dinner, which will be held at the Holiday Inn, Sutton on the 19th October. The tickets price is £45.  Rooms can be booked at the hotel for the Friday and Saturday nights (18th and 19th October) for £99 a night, bed and breakfast, quoting the code HD4.  The rate applies to single or double occupancy.

Subsea7, 40 Brighton Road, Sutton, London, SM2 5BN

Holiday Inn Sutton, Gibson Road, Sutton, London, SM1 2RF