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Meet the BSAC's East Anglian divers - Norfolk's scuba diving club

PUBLISHED: 11:05 13 August 2013 | UPDATED: 11:05 13 August 2013

EAB11 scuba diving club - the over 60s celebrating BSAC's 60th anniversary. Left to right, Mike Thomas, Garry Warnes, Cliff Alderton, Ady Phillips, Philip Jones, Peter Goreham, Val Broomhead, Richard Mann, Barry Catermole.

EAB11 scuba diving club - the over 60s celebrating BSAC's 60th anniversary. Left to right, Mike Thomas, Garry Warnes, Cliff Alderton, Ady Phillips, Philip Jones, Peter Goreham, Val Broomhead, Richard Mann, Barry Catermole.

Archant

The branch began in Great Yarmouth in 1954 when Dennis Dane, an ex-Army engineer, got together with Nick Pownall, a keen swimmer and owner of the first aqualung in Norfolk.

Together they staged a small exhibition of diving equipment in the foyer of a local cinema where the Jane Russell adventure film, Underwater, was being screened,

About a dozen enthusiasts showed interest and, after contacting the BSAC headquarters in London, the 11th branch of the national group was formed.

The first meetings took place in the cellar room of the Home for Shipwrecked Sailors on Marine Parade, which is now the Tourist Information Centre.

Most of the early training was done in the river Waveney at Geldeston Locks, near Beccles,

Up to six eager trainees would take turns breathing from a small aqualung – the self-contained underwater breathing apparatus (scuba) co-invented by Émile Gagnan and Jacques Cousteau in the 1940s – while wearing homemade wetsuits.

They progressed to club coach trips to Dorset in search of clear water, then settled for visibility of a couple of metres off Cromer and Sheringham where the first club hut was established.

Over the years equipment developed and a number of club boats came and went. The chalk gullies off Sheringham were explored and parts of wrecked aircraft were found. Early experiments with electronic magnetometers (an instrument for measuring the strength of magnetic fields) and Decca navigation systems led to dives further offshore on more challenging sites, thanks largely to Ian Gray from Mundesley.

The branch gained nationally qualified instructors and steadily grew in numbers to become one of the largest BSAC clubs in the eastern region.

In the 1990s, the branch rented some land in Trimingham, near Cromer, and built more substantial premises to store boats, set up a new compressor and provide changing rooms and showers.

This land has now been purchased by the branch as a base for their diving well into the future.

There are currently 87 members, ranging in age from 19 to 73, who come from all over Norfolk. The longest serving active member is Philip Jones, who has not missed a dive season in 48 years.

Members contribute to marine research providing information gained on dives as part of the Seasearch programme, and recently explored a number of North Sea wrecks as part of their annual Dive Week.

To celebrate the BSAC’s 60th year, EAB11 members are compiling their dives from January to September 2013 to see if they can reach a total depth of 6,000m, a total underwater time of 6,000 minutes and trips to 60 different wrecks.

To find out more, visit www.angliandivers.co.uk or email enquiries@angliandivers.co.uk or search Anglian Divers on Facebook.

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