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The Path to the Diving Helmet

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Science Age Levels Elementary (9 to 12 years old), Middle School (13 to 15 years old), High School (16 to 18 years old), Post-Secondary, Adults

Some inventions are said to be ahead of their time, and some behind their time; but most inventions arise as a result of present needs, or as a result of a new development that enables an existing idea to be produced.

Think of the example of space travel.  Space travel wasn’t possible in the 1930s because the rocketry technology wasn’t available — that was only developed during the Second World War. So it was with the diving helmet; everybody knew what they wanted to do, but they couldn’t make it work until the materials and technology became available.

Key words: Diving, diving helmet, Deane helmet, James helmet, Halley helmet, diving hoses, diving pumps, Diving Museum, Gosport, England.

The 'James' helmet


Semi-atmospheric diving suit, c. 1730

The Motion of Fluids, by Martin Clare, London, 1735

Hautefeuille's self-contained diving apparatus, c. 1678 (captions translated into English)

Jean de Hautefeuille, underwater breathing apparatus patent drawing, c. 1678

The first diving helmets


Edmond Halley's diving helmet and bell, 1691

Halley's diving bell, by W. Hooper (adapted to show how air was delivered to the bell and diver)

Klingert's open diving helmet, 1822

Description of a Diving Machine by Karl Heinrich Klingert, The Historical Diving Society, London, 2002

Diving pumps

Diving Heritage

The hose

Jan van der Heyden, c.1672

The high pressure hose

Nigel Phillips

The high pressure hose - a solution

John Adamson (1809-1870)

Macintosh's rubber hose

Edward Burton after a painting by J G Gilbert (1794-1866)

The Deane Helmet, 1832