Pompey News: "Historic Battery to be used as diving museum"


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Pompey News said:
A new diving museum is set to open in Gosport. Gosport Borough Council has agreed to lease the No 2 Battery at Stokes Bay to the Historic Diving Society.


The battery was used as a nuclear fallout shelter, then as a display area but has stood empty for several years.

The council hope that by using it as a museum the old building will be saved.

Cllr Graham Burgess, chairman of the community and environment board at Gosport Borough Council, told The News he welcomed the idea of a museum at the battery.

He said: 'Most importantly it brings a disused building back into use.

'By doing that it will prevent No 2 Battery becoming derelict.

'Also some of the earliest forms of commercial diving took place in the waters off Gosport so it's good to have this at Stokes Bay.'

The Historic Diving Society approached the council to use the building and will invest money as well as provide volunteers to bring the battery back into use.

One of the problems they will need to fix is the severe dampness in the building which meant it could not be used in recent years.

The society has said it will use the building for the display of diving artefacts, many of which members of the public will not have seen before.

Some of these will be from their private collection and others will come from the Royal Navy Submarine Museum.

If they can stop the dampness in the building they will also store their book collection for reference use.

Cllr Burgess added: 'I welcome this and I feel it will be an added attraction for the area.

'There is plenty of car parking at Stokes Bay so people can easily visit.

'It is another feature for the borough and one which we will have to publicise to make sure we bring more visitors to Gosport.'

The diving society will pay a small amount of rent to the council for using the building and will keep the interior of the battery in a decent state.

If the museum makes more money than it costs to run it the council will get an as yet undecided slice of this.

Mark Pam, head of property services at the council, said: 'It will be manned by volunteers and will be good for Gosport.

'It pushes all the right buttons. It encourages tourism and it also brings a disused building back into use and gives the society a place to display all of their artefacts.

'They now have to do some investigations about the work they need to do there before carrying out that work.

'I believe they are looking to have it up and running by around September.'

Last chance to visit Diving Museum before next Spring


The Historical Diving Society's diving museum at Stokes Bay will be open 1100 - 1700 next weekend (12 & 13 Nov) after which it will close to the public for the winter. Dr John Bevan, Chairman of the Society, has promulgated the following information about the museum's first season.

The HDS diving museum was recently honoured by the arrival of its 5,000th visitor:

HDS Museum Visitor 5000 Nov 2011 med.jpg
5,000th visitor to the HDS Diving Museum

During the museum's 72 days open to the public (weekends, bank holidays and a few specials), the cumulative total of visitors has reached 5,132 averaging 71 visitors per day.

The museum has received group visits from:

  • Medical Examiners of Divers - 10 May
  • French twinned town Royan delegation - 22 May
  • Special Opening Ceremony - 18 June
  • Bay House School students - 11 July
  • NATO Diving Publications Working Group - 27 September
  • DIVEX - 4 October
  • Mary Rose Patrons - 14 October
  • British Hyperbaric Association - 20 October
  • Gosport Scouts 7th Troop - 4 November
  • Nautical Archaeological Society - 6 November
Visiting diving clubs have included:

  • Eastney Cruising Association, Sub Aqua Group
  • Guildford BSAC
  • Harlow SAC
  • Harrow SAC
  • Selsey BSAC
  • Southsea BSAC
Museum volunteers have also participated in:

  • Celebrate Gosport - Big Day Out 12 June
  • Gosport Heritage Open Days - 8 to11 September
Last week in a blaze of publicity, the museum took delivery of two ex-Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory (RNPL) deck compression chambers (DCCs) as well as a one-man transfer chamber. The two chambers are to be professionally painted as soon as possible. Five diving bells (how appropriate!) are yet to come.

HDS RNPL Chambers Nov 2011 med.jpg HDS Drager one man DCC med.jpg
Left: Ex-Royal Naval Physiological Laboratory deck compression chambers
Right: Dräger portable one-man compression chamber

The LAST weekend of the year is coming up although there will be a special visit from an ex-Royal Navy group calling themselves the 'Grumpy Old Engineers' next Tuesday. This will be covered by ex-RN volunteer guides able to speak their language.