SS Britannia

On a foggy morning in the Farne Islands, September 1915 the SS Britannia ran aground. She was on a trip from Newcastle to Leith and hit ‘the Callers’ early morning on the 25th of September.
Word was sent to Seahouses of the wreck and the lifeboat dispatched.
It was hoped that the Britannia might refloat on the next tide, however it soon became apparent that this would not be the case owing to the amount of water in her holds.
The lifeboat took off Captain Halerow,19 crew and 2 passengers and she was abandoned.

It is not clear exactly what her cargo was at the time of sinking, whatever it was she was quickly relieved of it by local fishermen who report they had found nothing but boots, all of which were ‘left’.

A Plan of the Britannia
A Plan of the Britannia

In 1971 Mansfield and District Underwater Swimming club as the club was then known lead a series of expeditions to the Farne Islands and identified several wrecks including the Britannia and the Snowdonia. Diving in the early 70’s was clearly a different sport to the one we know today, older club members tell of eras of homemade kit and close shaves.  At that time the club had a small  RIB which was used to make the crossing to the Farnes, alarmingly the crossing from Seahouses was also made by an improvised, flat bottomed craft known as Jacks Kipperbox, which the club regularly used for diving on the islands.

A schematic of the wrecks engine space.
A schematic of the wrecks engine space.

Once the Britannia had been identified, club members of the time did extensive research into its history, design and sinking. She had been built in 1885 by S. & H. Morton and Company of Leith, she had a gross weight of 740 tons and length of 210.4 ft. The Britannia was not insured at the time of sinking and so in 1971 was still owned by Currie Line of Leith.
Britannia was purchased by the club from Currie Line not long after her identification.

The Britannia machinespaceThe wreck remains one the clubs oldest, largest, most unusual and sadly under used items of equipment. Dives were regularly made on the Britannia throughout the 1970s and many items were lifted from the wreck, again evidence of a past era. Many of the artefacts from the ship can today be found in the clubhouse of Scarborough BSAC. They and the rest of Mansfield’s possessions were gifted to Hartlepool and Scarborough BSACs when the Mansfield 735 clubhouse closed in the 1980s. Plans, papers and reports on the Britannia remain in the club archive, the original expedition report ‘Project 1971’ can be found on the Expedition Reports section.

If any-one has recently dived the Britannia or would like to learn more about the wreck, please feel free to get in touch the branch archive has numerous papers pertaining to the wreck, which may prove interesting to any-one looking to dive her.

Learn to Scuba Dive

Training within a branch is a great way to learn to scuba dive.

Mansfield 735 branch benefits from having a very active set of instructors. Making it easy for members to improve their skills and explore their interests. We are happy to accept divers from other organisations and clubs. Diver’s with qualifications from other bodies can ‘cross over’ to convert their qualifications to BSAC grades.

There is no time limit on our courses and students progress through the sessions at their own pace. Pool sessions and lectures are organised at a time to suit both you and your instructor(s). You may have an instructor who does the majority of your training, occasionally your instructor may change, this depends on availability.

To try and make it easier for every-one to be at the right place at the right time, the Training Co-ordinator organises all training within the club, if you wish to attend the pool session for some training please make sure you contact them first. The Training Co-ordinator will know which instructors are attending the pool and if they will be available to do some training with you. It is important to remember that all of our instructors are volunteers and while we make every effort to do so we might not be able to facilitate your training on any particular night if you have not arranged this with the training co-ordinator before hand.

If you have never dived before you should start on the Ocean Diver course if you have a qualification from another diving organisation and are looking to join a club, please get in touch using the form below.

Try Scuba Diving

As long as you can swim to a basic level and are aged between 8 and 100, you’re more than welcome to come and try scuba diving. A ‘try dive’ is a great way to see if diving is for you and it cost only £10.00 During the ‘try dive’ the instructor will introduce you to the kit and then show you the ropes in the pool.

The club underwaterIf you’re from and school or group and would like to come for a try dive or would like us to come to you please get in touch and we’ll do our best to sort out some activities for you.
Try dives make great presents and are a fantastic introduction to diving. Contact us using the form on the right. for more information
For information about taking scuba diving lessons with us click here

If you don’t want a dive or just want to do some snorkelling or swimming.
At the baths session the pool is split between divers and swimmers/snorkelers There’s no need to pay at the reception come straight through to the pool side just pay your money to one of the pool marshals, photographs of whom are below.
Children are welcome so long as they are accompanied by an adult.


 

Jim Butler
Jim Butler
Alan Cockell
Alan Cockell

 

 

 

 

 


 

If you don’t want to swim or dive you are welcome to come to the pool to watch the action or just for a chat. There are usually several club members in the public viewing area at Lammas Leisure Centre during our pool session who would be happy to answer any questions you may have. If you can’t get to the pool then you can always come down to see us at Sutton-in-Ashfield Sailing Club. We meet there from 18:00 on Saturdays and from 19:30 on Thursdays.

Please see our contact page for more information about where we meet.