About Stoke Divers!
In 1971, Garrick Nicholson, head of Liberal Studies at the then Stoke-On-Trent Technical College, took up diving with the North Staffordshire branch of the BSAC. His enthusiasm for the sport spilled over to his students, many of whom, after hearing his tales from the deep wanted to learn to dive themselves. The college and Students’ Union (SU) already had a weekly pool session at Tunstall Baths, to provide evening swimming facilities for students and staff. The SU purchased six sets of masks, snorkels and fins for use in these sessions and snorkel training began.
Having mastered the use of basic equipment, some of the students were then ready to progress to the Aqualung. With another grant from the SU, a couple of diving cylinders and regulators were purchased and Garry began training students in their use. News of the diver training got round, and before long members of the public were phoning the College to ask if they could be taught sub-aqua diving. The Principal of the College, Dr Cresswell was an ex- naval officer who was familiar with diving activities, and he asked Garry if a diving course could be set up, Garry produced a list of equipment required including a high- pressure air compressor to fill the cylinders, and in those pre-financial stringency days the equipment was duly purchased.
Peter Warrilow, an experienced diver from the North Staffs Sub-Aqua Club was engaged as a part-time lecturer and together, he and Garry started the course in September 1973. The course lasted a full college year of 36 weeks and involved a one-hour theory session, followed by a one hour baths session. In order to validate the qualifications awarded at the end of the training, the BSAC syllabus and training was adopted, and this syllabus has been adhered to and updated ever since. The Sub-Aqua course only covers theory lessons and pool training. Naturally students wished to dive in open water, and for this reason the Stoke-on-Trent College branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club was born in 1973.