Dive in to Whitstable Museum!

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By susanhubbard | Friday, April 15, 2011, 17:18

Henry VIII's warship the Mary Rose and Whitstable - what's the connection?

Whitstable Museum is exploring this fascinating link in a new exhibition about the town's historical industry of diving and ship salvage. For about 50 years in the 19th century, Whitstable was a 'Mecca for diving', according to Dr John Bevan of the Historical Diving Society who officially opened the display this week.

He said that the shipping insurance company Lloyds of London even had a special telegraph connection to Whitstable to get hold of the local salvagers wherever and whenever a ship went down.

Two local brothers, John and Charles Deane, had developed the diver's helmet, which changed the salvagers' way of working forever and gave Whitstable the edge in the industry.

In 1836 -1840 John was working on the Mary Rose wreck and brought up many items which he recorded in detail.

Island Wall was known as Divers' Row for a while, as it was where many men made wealthy by the industry chose to build new houses.

The exhibition includes information about the Deane brothers, local diving, and artefacts from the Mary Rose. There is also a display of papier mache works inspired by divers, made by local art duo Total Pap (Emily Firmin and Justin Mitchell).

  • Whitstable Museum now charges for entry - but if you have a Canterbury district residents' card, you and your family can still get in free.

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