The History of the Branch

Originally seeded from Nottingham BSAC, Mansfield and District Underwater Swimming Club (MDUSC) was formed in 1958 as an independent diving club. The club enjoyed many years of success as an independent body and  joined the British Sub Aqua Club in 1970. The main drivers of this initiative were three of MDUSC’s instructors who had already joined Alf Temperton’s BSAC Special Branch in Lincoln. Jim Butler, Deric Ellerby and Phil Stone were involved in the Derbyshire Association of Sub Aqua Clubs, helping organise and teach on training courses and wanting to advance their instructor qualifications within the BSAC system.

Early homemade underwater camera housing.
Early home made underwater camera housing.

Another significant enticement was the opportunity to participate in the BSAC’s newest project, to charter MV British Diver. Those opposed giving up the clubs independent status pointed out with the current membership of BSAC it would be Mansfield’s turn sometime in the 21st century. Luckily  MDUSC became a branch of the BSAC and Mansfield 735 were able to charter British Diver for the next four years. The first year BSAC extended the season by a week to accommodate the Oban based circumnavigation of Skye project, a fantastic success even the though optional visits to Iceland and New York had to be trimmed out. The ‘exotic’ expedition has become a well established tradition that has helped cement the club diving spirit ever since.

Already active at local county level, joining BSAC rapidly opened up wider horizons to 735. ‘Twinning’ first with Hartlepool and Scarborough Branches, joint Scottish and Mediterranean expeditions were organised. These contacts are still well alive to this day. Individuals in the Branch also progressed their BSAC qualifications, both on the instructor path and broadening experience with Chartwork, Navigation, Boat Handling, Recompression Chamber Operation, Compressor Management and Marine Biology being just some of the courses the Branch was active in running. These brought wider regional contacts leading to joint expeditions with Doncaster, Selby and RAF Lakenheath to sites as far apart as Scapa Flow and the South of France (long distances in those days!).

With Deric Ellerby becoming BSAC East Midlands Regional Coach, the Branch was heavily involved in supporting regional training events and an annual Regional Conference, supplying both instructors and administration (and sandwiches).

Opening of the Branch Club House
Opening of the Branch Club House

Renting and re-furbishing a derelict council property to make a viable Clubhouse was another unifying project, even though in true BSAC fashion it was the lorry drivers and accountants who had to do the plumbing work and the teachers and miners the electrical work, whilst the plumbers and carpenters argued over which brewery to adopt. The clubhouse was opened by the BSAC chairman, Kendal Mc Donald in 1976.

This functioned very successfully for ten years until a combination of a major rent rise and the drink driving restrictions forced its closure in 1986.

Inevitably over the years some of the original prime movers had to be replaced, usually because their BSAC commitments had moved geographically wider, but this merely encouraged newer members to advance their own qualifications and follow similar paths. So a continuity was maintained and 735’s development has kept pace with changes in both BSAC and diving habits and techniques.

An early trip to the Farne Islands. The square boat in the picture was known as "Jacks Kipper Box".
An early trip to the Farne Islands. The square boat in the picture was known as “Jacks Kipper Box”.

Expeditions today are to the South China Sea, with members diving locations such as Truk Lagoon and the Galapagos. Having previously played host to visitors from BSAC Japan, 735 was delighted to receive a batch of specially produced ‘qualification’ cards to commemorate it’s 50th Anniversary. The Branch even got a special congratulatory mention in the ‘BSAC Japan Times’ magazine.