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HISTORICAL DIVING SOCIETY NEWSLETTER - MUSEUM SPECIAL!
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The importance of establishing a dedicated museum for the history
of diving had been recognised and was indeed a prime aim when the
society was founded in 1990. However, the immediate demands of
the new organisation meant that a museum had to be put to one
side, though a small group of members did establish the Museum of
Diving and Underwater Exploration, the R.N. Submarine Museum
providing them with a small display area. As the society grew it
started to become the repository of choice for donations of
historical diving equipment, books, films and ephemera from
individuals, the military and commercial organisations, which
soon led to a major storage problem. Items, which were stored in
member's lofts, garages, garden sheds, etc., were almost
impossible to properly collate, assess and maintain. Once again
the R.N. Submarine Museum came to our assistance, allowing the
society to establish its library within theirs as well as the use
of their storage facilities. It was an invaluable stop-gap
solution which worked well for a number of years. However, a few
years ago the Admiralty decided to reorganise the Portsmouth
museums (Royal Naval Museum, Admiralty Library, R.N. Submarine
Museum, etc.) under one umbrella. As part of this, the Submarine
Museum would no longer be in a position to display anything other
than submarine-related material, and in addition the storage
facilities allowed them in an adjoining naval base (and which the
society shared) came under threat of re-development. It was clear
that the society needed to find its own premises, which would
provide for both museum and storage. The hunt was on!

Three possible sites were identified, though one of these was
quickly eliminated, leaving Fort Cumberland at Eastney and No. 2
Battery in Gosport, the latter suggested by Kevin Casey. Although
No. 2 Battery, one of a chain of Victorian gun sites originally
built to defend the western approaches to the Solent against the
French (who else!) had a number of problems, it also had the
advantages of being in a tourist area which is easily accessible
by public transport and adjacent to a public car park, toilets
and a cafe/restaurant. In addition, a number of members live
within easy reach of the site and, the clincher, Gosport Borough
Council was very, very keen to see the building in use,
especially as a museum, which fitted in with their development
plans for Gosport tourism. Following negotiations which started
in June 2010, a lease was drawn up which allowed the society use
of the site at a peppercorn rent and the council have continued
to provide all manner of help and assistance as the project got
under way.

No. 2 Battery had lain derelict for about 20 years, following its
closure as a nuclear bunker for the Gosport Borough Council. It
had opened for a few months as an art exhibition about 10 years
ago, but that is all. So the first task was to clean out all the
rubbish, muck and standing water that had accumulated over the
years.

The lime-washed walls and ceilings were in disrepair so we
scraped and brushed them all down. The concrete floor was dirty,
uneven and unsightly, so we cleaned it up, filled in the cracks
and painted it with a special, hard-wearing, epoxy floor paint.
There were water-damaged wood panels on the walls which were
re-hung and painted. All the wooden fittings have also been
repainted.

The electrics were wet and rusted, so all the sockets and rusted
light fittings were replaced and the electrical system
recommissioned. We also replaced and recommissioned the emergency
lights.

The windows and doors were seized and the steel fittings rusted.
So we have re-hung the windows with brass hinges, sealed the gaps
and refurbished the oak entrance door.

Topside was heavily overgrown with ivy and over several
hard-working weeks we cut it all back and removed the debris,
several truck-loads of which were taken to the dump. We designed
and built a new metal cowling to cover an open 'chimney' up top.

We are now well into the design and construction of the exhibits
phase. There are sections for the Royal Navy, recreational SCUBA,
stand-up manikins, commercial diving and diving accessories.
Displays will include a "subsea animation theatre", an inflatable
standard diver and a standard diver photo opportunity.

Outside exhibits (behind railings) will include historic
decompression chambers, diving bells and atmospheric diving
suits.

The Diving Museum will open to the public on Saturday, 30 April
(the day after the royal wedding). This will be followed about a
month later with a special, ceremonial opening by the Mayor of
Gosport. We plan to be open every weekend throughout the summer,
until the end of October. Depending on volunteer support, we may
also be open during the week during the school holidays.

To help us over the first critical years of operation, before we
can benefit from grants, we have established the special
qualification of Founding Patron of the Diving Museum. So far,
six people have qualified by donating £1,000 each to the Museum
Development Fund. Why not join in as a Founding Patron?! (See
below)

The preparation of the Diving Museum has been achieved by a gang
of generous and enthusiastic supporters who include (with
apologies to anyone I've missed):

Gavin Anthony - Marie Anthony - Adrian Barak - Ann Bevan - John
Bevan
Bill Braithwaite - Bob Campbell - Kevin Casey - Hazel Casey -
John Dadd
Clive Egginton - Mike Fardell - Roger Forster - Roy Gould - Rob
Hoole
Barry Jackson - Alan Lee - Trevor Lewis - Ray Mabbs - Margaret
Marks
Martin Marks - Chris Murphy - Pam Murphy - Shirley Mumford - Mike
O'Meara
Kathleen O'Meara - John Millerchip - Jane Millerchip - Nigel
Phillips
Dougie Saunders - Stew Sissons - Jim Thomson - John Towse - Gary
Wallace-Potter
(As well as some unsuspecting family members who thought they
were being treated to a day out!)

Founding Patrons:

If you would like to become a Founding Patron of the museum,
please make out your cheque for £1,000 to the 'MDUE' and send it
to Dr. John Bevan, 5 Nepean Close, Alverstoke, Gosport,
Hampshire, PO12 2BH. If you able to Gift Aid your donation it
will be worth an extra £200 to the museum.


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Welcome to the latest edition of the Historical Diving Society
Newsletter.

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Thanks,
The HDS