THAT SAID, I’ve seen many books that set out to chart the early development of diving in the UK fall short of this one when it comes to recalling bygone eras vividly, and with humour and charm.
The club started in April 1956 with a speargun stunt on the beach that caught the eye of local press, and its first mention in Triton (DIVER’s ancestor) was a listing that August.
It was only BSAC’s 37th branch, conceived at a formative moment for scuba in Britain. Thurtle has been diligent in his research and curation and, with the help of past and present members, has unearthed a wealth of stories and pictures.
He cites a few high- (or low) lights – helping police with body searches and recoveries in the early days; an exploding dive cylinder that “almost closed the club down and made it difficult for anyone diving in the UK”; members who trained dolphins and built yellow submarines.
Entries veer between tragedy and comedy, as you might expect.
This publication makes no pretence about being a professional book, so there’s no point in me quibbling about proof-reading, consistency or layout. The content simply opens a window into forgotten worlds, and reading it is like browsing through a box of dusty papers found in the attic.
Recommended for any diver who revels in nostalgia, or wants to know what scuba was really like, back in the day.