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Diver Keith in search of sea treasure.

Byline: Lee Maddison

WHEN Keith Overfield began diving in the late 1950s the sea really was the Final Frontier.

He got into diving in 1958 when he joined the British Sub Aqua Club based at South Gare and was soon hooked, spending all the hours he could diving off the Teesside coast, using mostly old gear left over from the war.

"We dived a lot off Redcar and Staithes," he recalled just over a decade ago.

"Shallow diving to begin with, that's in about 15m of water, deep water diving being 40m and over. We went looking for lobsters and wrecks and of course, treasure.

"Some of the lads I was diving with included Jeff Pape, Stan Cotton and the Barnett brothers. We really were explorers then, breaking new ground and helping map the seabed."

The North Sea is literally a graveyard of wrecks, both ancient and modern, and in the heyday of explorer diving, the 1950s and 1960s, the diver always, if he could, returned with a trophy.

"We came out with anything we could - a porthole, the ship's wheel - the ship's bell was the real prize because that was the heart of the ship.

"Most of the wrecks in the area were already known about when I began diving but sometimes there would be a mystery to be solved - local fishermen would have their nets fouled on something and would ask us to investigate.

"And of course the dream was to discover a wreck not previously known about - to be the first to see the ship since she went down.

"One of my most exciting dives was when I was asked to join an investigation of an ancient wreck at the bottom of the Tees.

"It was 1970 and something had been snaring the nets of trawler skipper Leonard Tabner, of South Bank, so we went down to take a look and retrieved an anchor nine feet long, still with part of its wooden cross-piece.

"The anchor probably came from a Spanish galleon known to be wrecked in the area."

| Read more of Keith's |diving experiences in tomorrow's Remember When.


Keith Overfield on Redcar promenade ready for diving in the late 1950s

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Publication:Evening Gazette (Middlesbrough, England)
Date:Feb 4, 2015
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