Diving has a rich and vibrant history dating back to the primitive dive suites of the 15th century where Konrad Kyeser describes a diving suite made from a leather helmet and a glass window.
It wasn’t until the 1820’s where Charles and John Deane produced the first successful diving helmets, they actually started life as a “smoke helmet” designed for fire fighters to access breathable air supplied by a bellows and leather pipe. In 1828 the brothers discovered another application for the smoke suit and the first commercially sold dive suit was born.
By the 1830’s the Deane brothers were making improvements to their suite fitting the helmet to a full-length watertight canvas diving suit. As well as this they managed to engineer the first valve to ensure the suit didn’t flood regardless of how the diver moved through the water.
Diving demonstration at Portsmouth in the 1830s
The diving suit combining the traditional hard hat works on a similar principle to a diving bell where compressed air is provided to the helmet. Astonishingly these helmets could reach depths of 600 feet and the diving suits could weigh as much as 132 pounds or 60kg.
Diving has obviously improved significantly since these days however if you are lucky enough to go on a hard hat diving expedition then definitely don’t pass up the opportunity.
Over the years we’ve loved taking people on these dives to get a completely different experience.
If you’re ever around Melbourne, Victoria in Australia the team at Aquability dive school run hard hat dive sessions from time to time. If you’re passionate about your diving this is a great way to see how the Deane brothers started out.