Helmet diving began in Whitstable to improve the salvaging of material, such as metal anchors, guns and even treasure from the seabed — naturally for a profit! Early diving could be dangerous but was sometimes also highly lucrative.
A famous salvage expedition by Whitstable-based Deane and Edwards found the Mary Rose in 1836 off Portsmouth when local fishermen asked them to investigate an obstruction that was fouling their nets.
They salvaged cannon and many interesting everyday objects which were either sold to the Government or auctioned off locally. The location of the wreck was then forgotten for 130 years until the Mary Rose was rediscovered and raised in the 1980s.
Visit the Museum Museum to see:
- Early diving helmets and heavy lead diving boots
- The canvas diving suit worn by divers from the 1830s until after World War Two
- An original diving air pump
- Everyday Tudor objects raised from the Mary Rose
The Divers’ Trail tells the story of the invention of helmet diving and where the intrepid Whitstable divers lived and drank, a few hundred yards from the museum.
Albums 10 and 17 have old photographs of divers and their salvage vessels.