Gosport museum aims to put world's first diving helmet on display

A MUSEUM believes it will attract visitors from across the world when it puts the very first diving helmet on display.

Wednesday, 15th March 2017, 6:09 am
Updated Friday, 24th March 2017, 11:21 am
Kevin Casey at the museum

Gosport Diving Museum, on Stokes Bay Road, is in the process of getting the artefact from the Science Museum on a three-year loan.

The helmet, which has never been seen before by the public, was invented by Charles Deane to initially be a smoke helmet that would allow a person to enter a smoke-filled building to rescue people and property.

After it failed to take off, Charles, who lived in Gosport between 1835 to 1844, rejigged the design with his brother, John, and the helmet was used to dive on shipwrecks such as the Mary Rose and the Royal George.

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The helmet

Kevin Casey, director of the museum, expressed his delight about getting the helmet.

Mr Casey said it had cost the museum £21,000 – through a grant from the South East Museum Development Programme – to help buy items such as a cabinet to store the mask in and an alarm system.

But he believed it would be worth it in the end.

Kevin said: ‘There is going to be interest from overseas in this.

The helmet

‘I am hoping this will not only raise our profile, but the profile of the town of Gosport.

‘I am sure we will get it – the Science Museum wants us to have it.’

Kevin said he was having to take temperature checks at the museum and send them to the Science Museum in order for the deal to be sealed.

Councillor Mark Hook, leader of Gosport Borough Council, said he had held regular meetings with Kevin and the council offered its full support in the bid.

Cllr Hook said: ‘It is a unique piece of history and I think that anyone involved in diving or working in that environment would want to come here and see it.

‘A huge thing is that they market it correctly and I know that will because they are determined.

‘The museum will make sure people are aware and people will travel to come and see this.’

Gosport Diving Museum hopes to have the helmet on display for when it re-opens for the new season on Friday, April 14.