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Sponsored diving books

Sun Jul 20, 2014 10:57 am

In the recent diving bibliography thread Lakediver mentioned the Classic Dive Boooks website at I've spent a little time reacquainting myself with its contents, finding out again in the process how general advertising in earlier decades has used skin and scuba diving as a context for the sale of non-diving goods and services, including airlines, alcohol, cars, beverages, chemicals, confectionery, cosmetics, entertainment, fashion, finance, food, health, hygiene, oil, smoking, soft drinks, stationery, travel and watches.

Commmercial companies not normally associated with skin and scuba diving have also sponsored works of diving literature. Here are three British books in this category:
1. Hampton, Trevor (1960s, exact date unknown) The Worthington Guide to Underwater Swimming. Burton Upon Trent: Worthington Breweries.
2. Gleeson, James (1972) Skin Diving with BP. Published by Kenneth Mason for the BP Retail Market Division of Shell-Mex and B.P. Ltd. in conjunction with The Scout Association.
3. (Author and date unknown, probably late 1960s or early 1970s) Snorkel, mask & flipper swimming. Published by the makers of Andrews Liver Salts, The Phillips, Scott & Turner Company, in the interests of R.o.s.P.A.'s National Water Safety Campaign.

1. The Worthington Guide to Underwater Swimming
The first title appeared thanks to the good offices of a Midlands brewery. If you look closely at the book cover above, you'll see that the air tanks on the diver's back are actually cans of ale. A cold pint of beer might have been just the thing to encourage friendly banter after a club or open water session. :D I don't have a copy of this book, so I'm indebted to the Classic Dive Books site for the following information:
This delightful little booklet was issued by Worthington breweries in Burton Upon Trent in the UK in the 1960’s and written by Capt. Trevor Hampton (author of “The Master Diver and Underwater Sportsman”). As you would expect, this is not a diving manual but is a good over-view for a potential diver. It is illustrated throughout with diagrams like seen on the cover and several photographs in colour and monochrome by noted photographers of the time. Not in chapters, this is divided into small sections: “A New World to Explore”, “A New Sport to Enjoy”, “Skin Diving”, “Free Diving”, “Submarine Pressure”, “Decompression”, “Deep Diving”, “Diving Locations”, “The Cost”, “Important Notes”, “The Lifejacket”, Air Failure”, “Free Ascent”, “Protective Clothing”, “First Aid”, “Air Supply” and “The Law”.
http://classicdivebooks.customer.netspa ... itain.html

2. Skin Diving with BP
This title owes its existence to an oil company and the Scout movement is one of its target audiences. BP produced other volumes in a recreational series, including angling, antique collecting, camping, caravanning, dinghy sailing and winter sports. The topics covered in Gleeson's book cover the history of underwater swimming, snorkel diving, training with snorkel equipment, the aqualung, learning to use an aqualung, additional equipment, spearfishing, other underwater activities and hazards. Just 71 pages long, but there is a passable reading and dealer list at the end. The book's cover promises "a splendid introduction to the sport and underwater exploration" and that's what the book does with its modest goals. Well illustrated with clear black and white photographs.

3. Snorkel, mask & flipper swimming
This must be the oddest of the three titles, not least because the booklet's publication was sponsored by Andrews Liver Salts, an over-the-counter medication functioning both as a laxative and as an antacid, helping to relieve the symptoms of stomach upsets, indigestion, and over production of bile. Somebody I knew fifty years ago (not me, I hasten to add) decided to swallow a dose before going for a lengthy walk. On his return, the man's heavily soiled underclothing was beyond washing and could only be disposed of in a bonfire. I still shudder whenever I see the small tin of Andrews' on pharmacists' shelves!

Anyway, this booklet entered my possession when I found it enclosed inside another dive book in a used book store. I bought the book and was allowed to keep the enclosed booklet for free. It's quite a short leaflet, but it covers the equipment of breath-hold diving very adequately, considering that the main purpose is to encourage safe practice among young people venturing into underwater swimming. Here is the back of the booklet:
Remember, the operative preposition when it comes to a dose of Andrews Liver Salts is "after snorkeling", not "before snorkeling." :D
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