The Life of Brian – The Diving Part That Is…

Brian Deluce celebrated his 50th year as member of the Kingston and Elmbridge Sub-Aqua Club towards the end of 2018.   The keen-eyed ones of you who follow our website and Facebook news will have read my article about Brian’s ‘better half’ Shirley Deluce celebrating 40 years in the club in 2017.

Brian Deluce, Club President Celebrating 50 Years at Kingston and Elmbridge BSAC

Although this wonderful couple didn’t meet through diving; rather through Shirley’s brother, a pub and a party, their relationship early on and subsequent family and friendships were formed in and around their love for Diving and Kingston and Elmbridge Sub Aqua Club. 

Brian and I are two very busy individuals so trying to find time to meet and talk uninterrupted even on a club night, has taken several months to organise, but met we did at New Malden Swimming Pool where KESAC train and swim (if not diving) on Thursday nights. 

“Brian you are often down at this swimming pool, giving try dives to the public on behalf of the club, you are our club el Presidente too, I know you have a Navy background, but how did it all start with diving?”

“I’ve had an interest in boats and water from a young age, my dad was in the Navy during the war and when I was 11 he took me down to the Sea Cadets – T.S. Steadfast at Kingston.  At 13 I transferred into the Royal Marine Cadets and then joined the Navy at 23.

“So was it while in the Navy you got into Diving?”

“No, it was while I was training to be an apprentice tool maker (between the ages of 16-21), that I worked with a guy called Brian A’Herne in 1968 when I was 18.  He was a member of the club and took me down to have a go.”

“Congratulations to Brian Deluce In Celebrating 50 years of scuba diving in 2018 from Kingston and Elmbridge BSAC No 0017.”

“So do you remember of that time and your first dive – what it was like?”

“At that time the club met in the Esher Outdoor Workers Social Club in Thames Ditton, which isn’t there anymore, it’s all houses today.   I had to do the ‘A Test’ at the old Kingston Swimming Baths before I was allowed to join, as did everyone.  This test consisted of 200yds on your front, 100yds on your back, 50yds with a 10lb weight belt on, float for 5 mins and tread water for 1min with your hands above your head.  You then had to dive down 6 times to pick up six different objects.”

“As as a competition swimmer and my background with the Sea Cadets I didn’t find it too difficult to do.”

“My actual first dive was in Black Pond in Esher Common.  Saw absolutely nothing, just lots of weeds.  But my first proper sea dive was a 30ft dive out of Newhaven with a guy who owned his own fibre glass boat.   You see, back when I started diving the problem you had was getting on a dive as there were very few charter boats and club members would take their own boats or the 2 small club inflatables down to the sea to launch and these would often get filled up with people they already knew.”

“I was lucky to be in the pub at the right time with a club member John Adams who was looking for another person to join a dive trip that weekend and I said I want in.   The briefing for my dive was to “follow my fins”.”

“Wow, so that was it – you did a bit of pool work, some open water snorkelling, went for a murky dive in the Black Pond in Esher (the name itself gives it away a not so good place to dive) and then you get instruction to “follow my fins”!?!  BSAC training has moved on somewhat…kind of glad!”

It wasn’t quite as bad as that makes it appear and the guys that were instructing in those days were very enthusiastic and thorough but yes, things have moved on a long way

“So tell me about your Naval Days, did you carry on diving there too.”

“At 23 I joined the Navy, did my six weeks basic training at HMS Ganges, Shotley Gate, Ipswich.  It’s now closed.  I got selected to go in as a Sparky (Electrician) at HMS Colingwood, Fareham, Portsmouth and became a Radio Electrician working on Radios and Radar sets.  I was ‘volunteered’ to join Submarines, which was a bit daunting at first, and got posted to HMS Dolphin in Gosport for three months further training.  This training consisted of three parts, 1) Theory, 2) Escape and 3) Sea Training; the Escape training included a 100ft tower of water where you put in an airlock in the bottom, that rapidly filled with water, the hatch was then opened into the main tank, and you had to get to the top remembering to breath out as you went to practice escape drills!”

“My first sub was HMS Alliance during theory training and I did my part three training on HMS Onslaught. I served on several boats but served most of my time and finished my Navy time on HMS Ocelot.  My first and last sub are now museum pieces, not sure what that says about me.  Alliance being at Gosport Submarine Museum and Ocelot at Chatham Docks.”

“I spent four years in the Navy and was a member of the Joint Services Sub Aqua Club, although still stayed a member at Kingston and became a Sports Diving Supervisor which allowed me to run diving trips within the services. This consisted of five days being observed and examined at Fort Bovisand at Plymouth.  I also did the Ship’s Divers course at Portsmouth, which was a very different sort of diving to what I had been doing with Kingston, everything was controlled from the surface like your air and depth as you were tethered to the ship.  We were mainly checking inlets for ordinance, the hulls of ships for any damage, ropes around propellers.  We had twinsets on and full-face masks.  Maximum we were allowed to dive to was 100ft (30m).”

Brian and Shirley with the rest of the club diving in the Red Sea 2017
And it would seem Rabbit made an appearance too!

“So you went back to civi street, met Shirley, so what was club diving like back then?”

“We did a lot more, small RIB diving (10ft RIBs) than what happens now, we used to own our own inflatable rib and go off with another family, John and Adele Morris, and other families camping and diving.    Either John and I would go off and the girls look after the kids and when we were back they would go off diving together, or Shirley and I would dive together and John and Adele looked after the kids and vice versa.   It was the only way we could do it and it was great fun.”

“The club was a lot larger back then as there we only a few clubs in London at that time.”

“We’ve had many different homes or pubs that we used to meet in until the current dedicated premises we now meet in at Tolworth.”

“We used to train at the old Walton on Thames swimming pool on Tuesday nights, after the old Kingston baths closed.  Elmbridge BSAC was set up as a separate entity from Kingston for about 8 years but when Walton Pool closed we merged together.  A lot of the members at the Elmbridge club were Kingston members, which had been going for longer, so it made sense to merge these two clubs together.”

“So what has been the biggest change in diving since you started, in your opinion?”

“That’s definitely got to be the ABLJ (Adjustable Buoyancy Life Jacket) which evolved into the Buoyancy Control or BC jacket.  Also the delayed SMB (surface marker buoy)…this really increased the distance you could dive without having to come back to the shot line to come up.  It also meant was could have more freedom to explore wrecks and therefore even more enjoyable diving.  Diving computers have also been a big change, making it safer and helps you to track and look back at dive profiles you have done.”

“I understand you have held nearly every office in the club committee, sometimes more than a few times over the years.   You are an Advanced Instructor and an Instructor Trainer.  You are now the club President and have been since I started 3 or 4 years ago and you also love to organise and take the club try dives for anyone interested in learning to dive.  How do you see the club today and where it is going?”

“We are seeing a lot of new members joining and undergoing training, which is great.  The club has a good core of members who put a lot time into organising, training, kit maintenance, finances and admin, the bar, tank filling.  Everyone helps out.  The more people put into the club and diving will find they get a lot more out of it and that is what keeps us going.  We are always looking for new members and those interested in diving, the sea, conservation and who enjoy exploring, holidays and adventures with likeminded people.”

Brian and Shirley Leading a Dive Trip to Weymouth 2017

“Talking of holidays what are some of your most memorable dives?”

“In the UK – Shirley and I love diving out of Weymouth, we became good friends early on with Andy Smith as he set up his dive boat charter business; his first boat being Hunters Moon, which then became a series of different vessels, named Skindeep then Skindeeper.  We were among the first to stay in the “Bunker” that until recently was run by Margaret for 20 years, and before that (23 years) we all used to stay in her house!    Shirley and I still organise and lead three or four dive trips for the club out of Weymouth with Skindeeper”

“My most rememberable dive was out of Weymouth on the The Salsette, which lies 48m down in Lyme Bay after being torpedoed in 1917.  I have never in all my years diving out Weymouth had vis so good as on that day, that we could see the emtire wreck as we descended.  We were able to swim the whole length (134m) twice and peer over the side from the top deck at 32m and look down to the seabed at 48m.  Never have I ever seen the sea so calm and clear.“

“I also love diving The Farnes diving with the playful seals and Mixon Hole off Selsey Bill.”

“Abroad – our best diving has been in the Maldives.  The sea life, coral and warm water temperatures make diving really relaxed and fun.  But it isn’t cheap!”

Brian in the Maldives

“Thank you for your time, Brian, talking to me, it’s been great to document your memories and experiences over the last 50+ years.  I know there is much more I could have written from what we spoke about and I am sure there’s much more you could have said, but thank you for your time tonight and all you have done and continue to do in the club.”

[Ed. I just want to add, because I can…that I did my first Open Water Dive with Brian on Skindeeper out of Weymouth.  It was a dive, on the Blackhawk, I will always remember and cherish.  Not just because it was my first, but because I learnt something from Brian that I still use to this day…I told him I struggled to clear my ears and took a long time to go down the shot….what I didn’t tell him was that I was set to give up diving as my ears kept hurting no matter how many different ways I tried to clear them.   Brian said to me, almost flippantly, “ah don’t wait till you are a meter or two down equalise as soon as you drop below the wave and often as you take a breath.  This worked a treat, every time I took a breath it would remember to equalise.  On that dive I went straight to the bottom of that shot line with no problems and was blown away by the fish and sea life in UK waters.  Brian helped me to realise that I could dive and not to give up.  I will always be thankful for that advice.]

And that’s the thing with club diving, you have people with many diving abilities and knowledge and by just by hanging around these people you learn a lot more with club diving. To find out more about diving and learning to dive Contact Us