The Origins Of Scuba Diving
It is unknown to many that the equipment used for Scuba Diving was actually originally designed for firefighting. Inspired by a fire accident two brothers saw, Charles and John Deane designed a “smoke helmet” that was to be used by firemen fighting fires in smoke filled areas. This early design was made up of a helmet made of copper with a flexible collar and garment attached to it. A leather hose was attached to the back of the helmet as the air supply. Another short pipe was attached to allow used air to escape, and the whole garment was made from leather, airtight cloth and held in place by straps.
Once designed, the two brothers found that they didn’t have the funding to actually build and market the equipment themselves, so they asked Edward Barnard, a wealthy investor, to buy the patent from them. By 1827, the first helmets were bought; and in 1828, the brothers decided to find another use for this strange device.
They decided to turn it into a diving helmet.
After designing a new, loose, watertight diving suit, they had a set of equipment that worked only while the diver was vertical. In any other position, water entered the suit.
In 1829, the Deane Brothers put the suit out for trials near Whitstable. Charles Deane used the equipment successfully in 1834 to reach the wreck of the Royal George at Spithead and recovered over 25 of the ship’s cannons. The following year, John Deane recovered timbers, guns, longbows and other items from the site of the Mary Rose Shipwreck.
Later, the brothers developed a diving manual called “Method of Using Deane’s Patented Diving Apparatus” which told the reader how to work their suit in detail, and then the two set to work with engineer Augustus Siebe to work on improving the design of the helmet.
Siebe changed the helmet, and with that change came the beginnings of modern Scuba Diving. Had it not been for the Deane Brothers, we, today, would not know about the mysteries that lie beneath the water.