Diving in to splashing good memories of an underwater World Record set in Blackpool

Remember the time a world record was set at the Imperial Hotel, in North Shore, Blackpool?

Thursday, 1st November 2018, 1:37 pm
Updated Thursday, 1st November 2018, 2:38 pm
Brian Foulds, is helped from the water by his colleagues 1975

In May 1975, Blackpool skin diver Brian Foulds set the then world underwater endurance record – after staying under the surface for a total of 88 hours.

The previous record had been 50. In 2011, a Turkish man stayed underwater for a staggering 192 hours – more than eight days, in a record that still stands.

But back in 1975, Brian’s mammoth efforts attracted much media and public attention.

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Underwater record, Blackpool, 1975

The 23-year-old electrician, from Bispham, had started his record attempt with amusement arcade proprietor Jim Whiteside. But Jim had to give in after just 26 hours underwater – the pain in his hands was too bad for him to carry on.

Fellow members of the Blackpool and Fylde branch of the British Sub-Aqua Club kept their round-the-clock watch.

After 88 hours, Brian was lifted out of the water on a stretcher and examined by the doctor.

One of his helpers told The Gazette he would have liked to try for 100 hours, but medical experts warned he could cause permanent damage to his skin by staying under for longer.

A game of underwater cards for two members of the Blackpool and Fylde branch of the British Sub Aqua Club, who are in training for their attempt on the world record underwater endurance test - 50 hours. Brian Foulds (left) and Jim Whiteside are pictured at the Imperial Hotel pool, North Shore.

Every hour during the feat, a measuring tube and electronic recording thermometer – borrowed from Blackpool Victoria Hospital – was sent down to check Brian and Jim’s temperature, to make sure it did not fall below 36 degrees.

There were only allowed three hours’ sleep at a time, because inactivity would have caused a temperature drop.

A special piped air supply by compressor kept them breathing while they were dozing.

To alleviate the boredom – which was the biggest problem as they sat at the pool bottom – a battery-powered TV set was sent down in a sealed fish tank and headphones were provided for radio and piped music.

Brian Foulds gives a thumbs up sign to photographer Peter Emmett, obviously not distressed by his colleague Jim Whiteside givng up his attempt of the underwater record at the Imperial Hotel Swimming Baths

Brian and Jim were fed by “moon food” – dehydrated plastic-bagged goodies – sent from NASA.

When Brian emerged, he said only his hands and feet were sore, but the challenge had posed him with no real problems.

He said: “I feel great. I wish I was still down there.

“I’ve been diving for six years, so I’m used to it.”

Brian Foulds takes coffee through a take from members of the Blackpool Sub Aqua Club during his world record attemp, 1975

Along with Brian’s feat, our archive pictures take a look back at skin diving and Blackpool Sub Aqua Club over the years.

Brian Foulds, underwater record challenge 1975
Brian Foulds (left) and Jim Whiteside give the thumbs up before their record attempt
Blackpool Sub Aqua Club members in training at the Cocker Street Baths, North Shore. Instructor Jim Glassbrook is pictured with a group of beginners
Underwater record challenge 1975
Frogmen practising on their home beach, at Blackpool, in 1965
Mrs Ursula Robert, in 1960 at Blackpool Sub Aqua Club
Blackpool Sub Aqua Club Training officer Ted Pearson (left) and instructor Dave West-Lewis (Standing) are with two pupils on their first session with aqua lungs, Lol Smith (left) and Peter Rembonski
Blackpool Sub Aqua club, November 1964
Sub Aqua Club, Blackpool 1964
Watching from Stanley park Lake bridge as members of the West Lancashire Sub-Aqua Club hold a diving session to search for stolen property, which police believed to have been dumped in the lake , in 1964
Sub Aqua Club, Blackpool