Blue plaque honour for Portchester diver who helped find Mary Rose

John Towse, who will be honoured with a blue plaque
John Towse, who will be honoured with a blue plaque
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HE HELPED to recovery a lost slice of Britain’s maritime heritage.

Now, the legacy of famed diver Edward John Towse – who was one of those to unearth the Mary Rose – is set to be immortalised.

Next month will see a blue plaque being unveiled at the Portchester home of Mr Towse, who died last year.

The Portchester Society led the idea – which has been welcomed by history buffs at the Mary Rose Museum.

Helen Bonser-Wilton, Chief Executive of the Mary Rose Trust said: ‘John played an essential part in the story of the raising of the Mary Rose and we would love to see his contribution recognised.’

Fareham MP Suella Fernandes added he made an ‘invaluable contribution’ to the nation’s history.

The Mary Rose

The Mary Rose

‘In helping to discover the Mary Rose, he has enabled future generations to learn from our rich heritage,’ she said.

‘That is a legacy of which he, his family and friends can be proud. A blue plaque is a fitting reflection of this exceptional contribution.’

Known as John, Mr Towse was born in Portchester on April 15, 1934, living in Castle Street all his life.

In May 1965 he helped pinpoint the whereabouts of the famous warship, alongside fellow diver Alexander McKee, who died in 1992.

He worked at the Royal Naval Physiology Laboratory in Alverstoke for more than 20 years. After retiring in 1989, Mr Towse continued his passion for diving until 2013, when he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease.

He died on the same week as the reopening of the Mary Rose Museum at Portsmouth’s Historic Dockyard, following a £5.4m revamp.

Christopher Dobbs, another diver from the excavation who is head of interpretation at the Mary Rose Trust, said Mr Towse’s legacy should never be forgotten.

Speaking at the time of his friend’s death, Mr Dobbs said: ‘John was a key figure in the search for the Mary Rose.

‘It was John who went to the Hydrographic Office in London with Alexander McKee where they found the 1841 Admiralty Chart that marked the last known position of the Mary Rose.

‘They used this to narrow down the search area – and the rest, of course, is history.

‘John has kept in touch with us over the years and we have enjoyed going out to the wreck site together and sharing stories. His contribution should not be forgotten.’

The blue plaque is due to be revealed at Mr Towse’s homeon Tuesday, May 9, at 3pm.