Ifield Divers can look back over a long and successful history.
The Club was established in 1968 by a small group of energetic and enthusiastic amateur divers.
Over the years, membership grew and diving continued on a regular basis, using an inflatable boat and outboard engine of unknown origins and progressively doubtful reliability.
Weekly lectures and social gatherings were initially held in various members’ houses but, in the mid 1970s we moved to the Station Tavern in Horley, where the luxury of our own private room (not to mention the availability of beer on tap!) proved very popular.
Diving was continuing with much enthusiasm with the annual Easter trip to Weymouth and Portland being a permanent fixture in the Club’s calendar. However, the inflatable and outboard engine were proving to be more and more troublesome. Eventually, in 1976, half a dozen members who regularly dived together collectively bought a replacement engine.
During 1976, we registered with the Sub Aqua Association – a body of independent sub aqua clubs formed in order to give such clubs a collective voice whilst retaining their independence.
In 1978, a meeting of several members was held and it was agreed that positive, collective action was needed if they were to continue their diving on any sort of scale. A Committee was formed, Rules were prepared and a Bank Account was opened. An additional Subscription rate was set and, using the first year’s Subscriptions together with a bank loan, a new inflatable boat was purchased. A boat trailer was built to save the boat having to be inflated at each dive site – a duty that had always fallen upon the most recently trained member!
By 1980, with the careful use of the increased subscriptions and the proceeds from fund raising activities, a second boat, an engine and trailer had been purchased enabling us to cater for an increasing membership.
In 1982, in a move prompted by the introduction of a Wine Bar at the Station Tavern, the Club moved its social and lecture evenings to Three Bridges Football Club.
The Club continued to flourish, with further equipment being purchased and renewed. In 1983, a ‘hard boat’ was purchased. She was a 23’ long ‘IP 23’ named My Girl Irene and was moored in Brighton Marina. She was soon equipped with navigation equipment and echo sounders etc in order to extend the range of diving available to Club Members.
In 1990, the Club again moved its ‘dry meetings’ – this time to Three Bridges Cricket Club, where we remain to this day.
In 1992, My Girl Irene was traded in against a ‘Mitchell 31’, which, after much thought, we named Ifield Diver! Additional navigation, sounding and safety equipment was installed which helped to extend the diving range even further to include holidays as far afield as Dartmouth and Falmouth.
In 2006, the Mitchell 31 was sold and we bought our current dive boat – an Aquastar 33 – which we have named, unsurprisingly, Ifield Diver (the Mitchell having been renamed when it was sold).
This new boat has been equipped with up-to-date navigation, communication and safety equipment (including a diver lift), giving access to all the best dive sites in the area.
Recently, the club has become involved with the Duke of Edinburgh Award Scheme by offering tuition to youngsters as part of the ‘skills’ or ‘physical recreation’ content of the scheme. This development is something enjoyed immensely by both sides – the candidates and the instructors.
A recent move saw us affiliate to Scuba Diving International (SDI) part of Technical Diving International (TDI) one of the largest training agencies in the world.
2018 saw the club’s 50th Anniversary. It is interesting to note that, over the years, more than 750 people have been members at one time or another. We still have one or two of the early members with us and are in touch with several others.
Times have changed and diving has changed but we like to think that we are still as enthusiastic as ever – just 50 years older!