Discover the Legacy of Augustus Siebe and Siebe Gorman: Pioneers of Diving Innovation
The story of modern diving would be incomplete without the contributions of Augustus Siebe, often hailed as the ‘Father of Diving.’ His journey from Saxony to London in the early 19th century marked the beginning of a legacy that would shape the underwater exploration as we know it today.
Innovations that Defined an Era: In 1834, Siebe crossed paths with Charles Deane, who had developed a smoke and fire hood. This meeting led to a groundbreaking collaboration that resulted in the creation of the ‘open dress’ diving suit, combining Deane’s hood with an air pump. However, Siebe’s true genius emerged in 1838 when he enclosed the suit to prevent flooding, giving birth to the world’s first closed dress or standard dress diving suit.
A History of Improvements: Over the years, Siebe made several crucial modifications to the diving suit, introducing features like inlet and outlet valves, a separate bonnet, breastplate, and regulating valves. These innovations revolutionized underwater exploration, making it safer and more efficient.
Adoption by the Royal Navy: The success of Siebe’s standard dress diving equipment was highlighted by the Royal Navy’s adoption of the suits following the successful salvage of the ROYAL GEORGE at Spithead in 1840. Siebe’s legacy continued to grow, and his company became synonymous with diving excellence.
Siebe & Gorman: In 1870, the company transitioned into Siebe & Gorman when Augustus Siebe handed over the reins to his son Henry and son-in-law William Augustus Gorman. It later became Siebe Gorman & Co Ltd in 1881.
Beyond Diving Suits: Siebe Gorman’s influence extended far beyond diving suits. During World War II, the company ventured into portable re-breather units, like the Salvus, initially designed for mines and firefighting but later adapted for underwater use.
The Birth of the Aqua Lung: Post-World War II, Siebe Gorman turned its attention to recreational diving equipment. The company introduced the ‘aqua lung,’ an open circuit scuba unit that marked the birth of recreational scuba diving. It was based on a license from the French company La Spirotechnique and featured the iconic CG-45 demand valve.
The Merlin Mk VI: Siebe Gorman’s acquisition of C.E. Heinke & Company in 1961 led to the creation of the Merlin Mk VI demand valve. This rugged and dependable regulator was embraced by the British Royal Navy, serving as the standard twin hose regulator for over two decades.
End of an Era: Siebe Gorman’s remarkable journey continued until 1999 when it merged with another company to form the renowned breathing apparatus manufacturer, Invensys.
Today, the name Augustus Siebe and Siebe Gorman resonate as pioneers who transformed diving into a modern adventure. Their legacy lives on in the equipment and innovations that have shaped the underwater world.
Explore this rich history and discover the spirit of innovation that defined Augustus Siebe and Siebe Gorman.