Welcome to issue 4(2019) of the Historical Diving Society Newsletter. 26 April 2019

Diving Museum welcomes new exhibits

On Friday 5th April, the day before the Diving Museum opened for the 2019 season, a reception was held to welcome some very important new exhibits (see below).  As befitting such an occasion, guests included the local MP, the Gosport Mayor, local councillors, representatives from industry (Subsea7 and IMCA) and the army and navy.  The event was filmed for the local television news.

Picture: Allen Leatt, CEO of IMCA addressing the gathering

Entrance view to the Diving Museum showing two glass cases containing early diving helmets separated by two mannequins dress in standard diving dress.

Diving Museum now open for the 2019 season

Thanks to Museum Director Kevin Casey’s hard work the museum now displays three more unique and important exhibits.  On loan from the Science Museum is W.H. James’ helmet, part of the compressed air diving dress system he patented in 1825 and a bust of Augustus Siebe, whilst from the RN Submarine Museum comes the Jim suit, the working armoured dress developed by Mike Borrows’ company from the original Peress ‘Tritonia’ suit, developed in the 1930s.   Additionally, the external museum display includes the 1930’s German Neufeldt & Kuhnke suit as well, making up a unique collection of exhibits in the field of armoured diving dresses.

(Picture: Ann Bevan)

Mayor of Gosport with museum volunteer walking into the museum

Local Mayors visit Diving Museum

On 18th April Gosport Mayor, Councillor Diane Furlong visited the museum as part of her annual Civic Day programme. She was accompanied by 30 of her fellow Mayors from various towns and cities in Hampshire. As the Mayor usually visits only 3 or 4 venues during her Civic Day, we were honoured to be included in the tour this year.

The Museum has always received a great deal of support from the Gosport Borough Council for which we have been very grateful. After welcoming our guests and thanking them for their support we were taken by surprise when our Lady Mayor presented us with a donation of £1,000 – a gift from the Mayor’s Charity which supports various causes in the Borough. It was totally unexpected and very gratefully received.

(Picture:  Gosport Mayor Diane Furlong with Ann Bevan)

Populated conference hall of Subsea 7, Sutton, UK (see from above)

2019 Conference and Dinner update

As previously announced, the conference will be held at Subsea7’s offices in Sutton and the dinner at the Holiday Inn, Sutton, both on Saturday 19th October.  We are just waiting on confirmation of the fourth speaker before circulating final arrangements.  In the meantime, you can book your accommodation (Friday and Saturday nights) at the conference hotel, the Holiday Inn, Gibson Road, Sutton, London, SM12RF.  The conference room rate is £99 b&b (single or double occupancy) and the booking code is HM4.

Go to:


International Journal of Diving History

Volume 10 is now at the printers and will be distributed to society members in May.  Contents include articles on a C19th River Clyde diving bell barge, the diving equipment used by the Royal Engineers in the 1940s, a history of the Czech habitat ‘Xenie’ from the 1960s, a comprehensive study of the diving knives used in the German Democratic Republic, Stone Fishing in Denmark and the life of the Austrian artist and underwater explorer Eugen Von Ransonnet-Villez.

This issue is in full colour.

Kreeft replica is dived

Those who attended last year’s conference will remember Franz Rothbrust’s fascinating talk on the research and construction of a replica of Peter Kreeft’s early C19th diving dress by HDS Germany on behalf of the Stralsund Maritime Museum.  Well, they have now reached the trials stage and the first 15 minute dive has been made.  Modern bellows were used for the air supply as the replica ones were not ready and Dräger weights enabled the team to assess how heavy the replica weights will need to be. There was some leakage in the leather seams which will need to be addressed but otherwise the trial went well.

A superb piece of experimental archaeology!

Mock-up image of a man holding the hand of the 10ft statue of a diver in standard dress in its proposed location

Military Diver Memorial at the National Memorial Arboretum

In recognition of the invaluable wartime service provided by divers, a bronze statute is to be placed at the National Memorial Arboretum.   The 10 foot tall statue is of a diver in a Siebe Gorman 6-bolt Admiralty pattern standard diving dress.  The statue is being funded from the sale of 300 bronze statuettes, exact replicas of the statue and purchasers (and a guest) will also be invited to the unveiling.  For more information, including details of how the statue will be made, go to:


(image courtesy of www.militarydivermemorial.com)

photograph of a statue of a diver in standard diving dress on a plinth in front of a large modern building in Ravenna, Italy

Italian Monument to the Hard Hat Diver

The board of HDS Italy made the decision in 2016 to create a monument to the hard hat diver in honour of the ‘Toilers of the Sea’, the title given by Victor Hugo to his 1866 novel, which follows the trials and tribulations of Gilliat, a Guernsey man and social outcast as he attempts to recover the engine of a wrecked ship and win the heart of the ship owner’s daughter.

The 2.3m bronze statue is mounted on a circular base on which four diving systems are depicted, those of Taccola (1433), Lorena (1531), Tartaglia (1551) and Borelli (1680).  It will be erected in the square of the MAS (National Museum of Underwater Activities) in Marina di Ravenna and will be inaugurated on the 15th June next.

For more information go to www.hdsitalia.org or contact Fausto Rambelli on f.rambelli@iperbaricoravenna.it