How the 'Holy Grail' of diving relics made its way to a Gosport museum
VOLUNTEERS at a museum in Gosport are celebrating the arrival of one of the rarest artefacts in the world.
The Deane Helmet, the oldest diving relic on the UK and second oldest in the world, now has a new home at the Diving Museum in Stokes Bay, Gosport.
The helmet, made in 1823, was quickly adopted by the Royal Navy for operational use, transforming the Diving World forever.
This, along with other artefacts previously kept in storage, now take pride of place in the heart of the museum.
Kevin Casey, the museum's director, says that the only time some of these displays have been seen before is in pictures.
He said: 'I'm over the moon - from when we first started these items were what we dreamed of having here.
'To me, getting the Deane Helmet is like getting the Holy Grail; that's how much it means to have it here.'
It is hoped that the Diving Museum's newest additions will put it on par with attractions in the surrounding area.
It comes after the museum received official accreditation from the Arts Council last month.
One of the artefacts, the Jim Suit, has been brought over from The Submarine Museum to add to the society's collection.
Another artefact, the James Helmet, has only previously seen in a single photo published in the 19th century.
Mr Casey said: 'The James Helmet was photographed in 1825, but it's just sat in a collection ever since then.
'People want to come and see these things because it's the first time they've ever had the opportunity to do so.
'It's unique for the country but most importantly, unique to Gosport.'
The Historical Diving Society says it is in the 'perfect place' for a museum, with Gosport being diving's spiritual home.
Diving started in the 1800s in the town, and was the place where diving equipment and techniques were developed in the Second World War.
Gosport MP Caroline Dinenage said: 'There are exhibits here that have never been on display before, and are some of the oldest relics in the world.
'To think that this museum was started up by a handful of enthusiastic volunteers and transformed into an international attraction is a real testament to their hard work.
'With this week being English Tourism Week, there was no better time to unveil these magnificent exhibits.
'We've got some really quirky and fascinating museum attractions in this town and the Diving Museum just keeps on getting better.'