Here are some British pioneers and pioneering efforts from the BSAC website.
Pioneering co-founders Oscar Gugen and Peter Small establish the BSAC (British Sub Aqua Club) on the 15th of October 1953.Who was at that first meeting?
Much of this information has been lost, and it is not currently clear whether there are any surviving members from that historic evening. But we do know that Colin McLeod, a director of the sports store Lilliwhites was there, as was Jack Atkinson, a no-nonsense ex-RAF Flight Sergeant, who became the club’s first Diving Officer. In total, 50 enthusiasts turned up, of whom 20 signed up for membership on the spot.
Right from the beginning they were convinced that the most important rule would be a ban on solo diving. Colin McLeod and Jack Atkinson agreed that the training system should mirror the RAF’s pattern of incremental advances: ‘elementary’ to ‘service’ to ‘operational’, which translated to Third, Second and First Class Divers. Jack began planning his instructor training programme and provided diving bulletins, which were eventually replaced by the first edition of The Diving Manual, in 1959. Much of the club’s early success seems to be down to the complimentary talents of its co-founders. Oscar was determined and resolute in his vision of British club culture, while Peter was brimming with enthusiasm and brought many ideas to the table. When the popularity of diving started to spread, it was his idea to form the first branch (the London Branch number one) and that the existing committee should change into a general committee, which lives on today as BSAC Council.
1960 - Underwater Channel attempt
London branch divers accompany adventuress Jane Baldasare on the first attempt to swim the Channel underwater. The bid looks as if it is going to be successful, but Baldasare gives up about three-quarters of the way into her journey after surfacing during a changeover.
1965 - Home, deep home
Bournemouth SAC sets up an underwater house, Glaucus, in Plymouth Sound, the brainchild of the branch's science officer, Colin Irwin. In September, two members live there for seven days, showing that Cousteau's experiments in underwater living can be done on a smaller budget. Today, the 'house' is still at the bottom somewhere, though probably broken up.
1966 - Mary Rose discovered
Southsea member John Towse and Alexander McKee discover the wreck of the Mary Rose after finding an obscure mark on a hydrographic chart. Towse and McKee, of the Scientific Group, do their historic first dive on the Tudor warship on 14 May 1966, in zero visibility. It's another four years before the wreck is formally identified, but the sheer significance of this dive still resounds today.
1967 - Operation Kelp
It's the year of Operation Kelp, a massive environmental science project organised by David Bellamy. It involves the help of 25 BSAC clubs and 262 members from all over the UK, who take kelp samples from the North Sea as a method of checking pollution levels. Bellamy and the divers win the Duke of Edinburgh prize for their hard work, and BSAC asks the botanist to become its science officer
1969 - Galleon discovery
Archaeologist Dr Colin Martin oversees a major expedition in July, which locates the Spanish galleon Santa Maria de la Rosa off Ireland. Dr Martin's team finds the wreck after carrying out painstaking swim-line searches covering an estimated 300 acres.
1969 - Wreck respect
Alex Flinder is elected BSAC Chairman in June. An architect by profession, his major passion is for marine archaeology. He serves on the Runciman Committee, which results in the Wreck Protection Act. His lasting influence is in encouraging the use of amateur divers in this field, despite the skepticism of some professional archaeologists.
1970 - Centre of excellence
In April, retired Naval Commander Alan Bax and former Royal Engineer Jim Gill obtain a lease from the Ministry of Defence to use Fort Bovisand as a diver training centre. It goes on to become a centre of excellence for BSAC training, producing some of the club's leading divers in the 1970s and 80s
"Where'd ya get that ol' thang, don't cha' know them thare things ill kill ya!"
Live From the Red Sea,