Swindon Branch (No.46) was inaugurated on 11th April 1957, and so can be counted amongst the first 50 BSAC branches out of today’s total of over 1,200 branches and a world-wide membership of almost 42,000.
John Hamilton – Founder Member
In 1956 I happened to read an advertisement in the Reading Mercury, inviting new members to join the Reading Branch (No.28) of the British Sub-Aqua Club. I had always been fascinated by the technology that enabled divers to survive underwater for prolonged periods of time, and this seemed to be my opportunity to sample the experience at first hand. I was immediately “bitten by the bug” after being introduced to the aqualung, for the first time, and joined the BS-AC.
Finding Oxford also had a branch of BS-AC, (Branch No.34), which was nearer to Swindon, I transferred my membership and underwent some of my initial training with them, before joining them on several inland and coastal dives.
Many of us wore woollen sweaters to protect ourselves from the cold water, the first generation of diving suits being out of our financial reach, costing between £10 to £15 and equivalent to a couple of hundred pounds by today’s prices.
I soon realised that training to become a 3rd Class diver required more commitment than an occasional visit to Oxford Branch’s weekly training sessions, and decided to attempt to form a branch in Swindon.
I contacted both Oscar Gugen and Peter Small, the two founder members of the British Sub-Aqua Club, and was told that I needed at least twelve members to form a branch. I placed a notice on the information board in Milton Road Baths in Swindon and also advertised in the local evening newspaper, resulting in just enough potential members coming forward to comply with this minimum requirement.