History of the Belfast Sub-Aqua Club

The British Sub Aqua Club was founded in 1953.The Belfast club was started by local BSAC enthusiasts during 1954 and officially became branch 30 of the British Sub Aqua Club on 29th February 1956.

This qualifies the Belfast Club as the longest established Scuba Diving Club in Ireland. Some of the early enthusiasts from the 50’s and 60’s are still associated with the club. Many of the current members have been with the club in excess of 30 years. The club will celebrate its 60th anniversary as a BSAC branch in 2016.

The club’s early enthusiasts, under the guidance of Dr Douglas Boyd, actively promoted the growth of the fledgling sport in Northern Ireland. Initially the Belfast Club had approximately 200 members and subsequently provided instructors and assisted the formation of other BSAC clubs across the province.

In the early days, the Belfast Club was self-financed and essentially continues to be so. Most of the diving was either shore based or from boats provided by local fishermen. Several members provided their own boats for diving expeditions to supplement the club’s early antiquated RFD inflatable boats. The recycling of marine scrap enabled the purchase of a corner shop in Alexandria Park Avenue in order to establish “clubrooms” (1966) for what became known as “The Belfast Club”

During the intervening years the club’s members provided a “centre of Excellence” in diver training and undertook many challenging diving expeditions in both local waters across the north of Ireland and overseas, such as, Isle of Man, Scapa Flow, Gulf of Eliat, The Red Sea, Great Barrier Reef, New Zealand, Vanuatu, Guadalcanal etc.

In the late 1990’s the club was fighting a losing battle to maintain the clubrooms and the receipt of a vesting order and the announced closure of the Grove Baths seemed to be the death knell for the club. However, sometimes fortune favours the brave. Members rejected the vesting order, sought and received equivalent reinstatement for their clubrooms on a nearby site. Thankfully, the Grove Baths was replaced on a nearby site by the Grove Wellbeing Centre, including, albeit, a smaller pool.

In December 2008 the Belfast Club moved into a new purpose built club house at 421 North Queen Street. These modern training facilities have enabled the club to re-establish itself as the leading BSAC Branch in Ireland. The Branch’s chairman, who is currently the regional coach for Ireland, regularly engages with other local diving clubs delivering training support for their members and promoting interclub collaboration, as envisaged, many years ago by our founder, Dr. Douglas Boyd.

From the start, the Belfast Club has been self financed by members and apart from funding from the Foundation for Sports and the Arts (1993), the Sports Lottery Fund (2000) and Equivalent Reinstatement from NIHE (2008), continues to be so. The members express thanks to past members and the aforementioned funding bodies for their support of the Belfast Sub Aqua Club.

 

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