A Brief history of Bradford Sub-Aqua Club
Bradford sub-aqua club is a branch of the British Sub Aqua Club (number 0044) the club was formed on 4th of December 1956 at the Victoria Hotel, Bradford, when an election of officers was held and affiliation to the British Sub Aqua Club was sought. The first meeting of the newly formed club was held on the 14th January 1957 at Wyke Swimming Baths.
When the club first started it was just a handful of enthusiasts with home made wet suits and limited equipment. The newly formed Bradford Sub Aqua Club soon settled into a routine and club evenings were held in a pub in Thornton for socializing and lectures, and pool training was switched to Thornton Baths.
In 1968 the club took the opportunity of renting the derelict premises of the Fleece Public House at Queensbury (which had ceased trading in 1962) we applied for a beer license in 1969 and the Finn Inn was born, FINN INN "FINNING" - get it?
The rent at this time was £250 a year. Upstairs, which is now the bar, was formerly the living accommodation and when we first moved in we confined ourselves to downstairs because upstairs was in such a mess. Club evenings were where the lecture rooms now are and the bar was in the equipment room with beer coming straight from the barrels. Old bus seats to sit on completed the furnishings.
At this time the membership was around 40, we also took the opportunity to switch to Eccleshill baths when it first opened as a new pool.
In 1972 the owner of the club house, a Mr. Robertshaw was murdered, he was a Queensbury philanthropist who amused himself by going down to Bradford Bridewell on Saturday nights and bailing out the prostitutes.
A couple of local lads decided Mr. Robertshaw must be worth a bob or two and decided to burgle his premises, the old boy disturbed them and was killed in the ensuing scuffle.
We then had to decide to either buy the premises or face eviction, we decided to buy. The Finn Inn was purchased in 1974 for the then, hefty amount of £7,500.
Gradually we moved upstairs and laid out the bar area, a blue plastic affair with matching blue tables and chairs (this was the age of Formica!) the blue chairs are STILL there!
The premises although habitable by the late seventies was still in need of major renovation. In winter the roof leaked and it was not unusual to have a couple of inches of water on the floor, the usual jokes ensued, we could use the club for pool training, should we wear our wet suits to come to the club etc.
In 1983 we carried out a major renovation of the premises with the help of a Sports Council Grant and a brewery loan and the leaky roof leaked no more, the bar area was the focus of most the renovation work with a new bar and layout of the upstairs rooms.
The process of renovation is one which is continual and other areas of the club such as the compressor room, garages, toilets etc. have all been improved since that time and indeed work on the club is part of a yearly ongoing process.
It is not only the clubhouse, which has undergone change, equipment too has evolved. The twin hose breathing apparatus developed to the modern demand valve, the tiny little fins worn by our members of 1956 gave way to the Jet fin, which in turn gave way to the massive fins available today and the dry suit has thankfully replaced the wet suit. Likewise all aspects of diving equipment have seen improvement and change. Boats too have not been idle and from the inflatable boats with a sectioned wooden floor known affectionately as "soggy's " we now have the RIB (Rigid Inflatable Boat) with inflatable tubes and a fibre glass hull, mounted with powerful engines of 75hp. plus, light years away from the 20hp., mounted on a soggy.
All these improvements in equipment mean we can cover greater areas of sea in greater comfort and safety, dive deeper, stay down longer and fin faster. (or at least, some people can fin faster!?)