Mercian Divers was founded by Ray & Nick Baker, Mike Meredith and Roy Thomas in 1974 at the Farmers Boy Pub in Kidderminster. At the time the club Committee comprised of Ray as Chairman, Roy as Secretary/Training Officer and Mike as Treasurer, any club meetings were held at the Kidderminster Harriers football club.
The club started using the pool at Holy Trinity School (then Holy Trinity Convent School) in Kidderminster for training. They started to look for alternate swimming pools in the area and approached the Dolphin Centre in Bromsgrove, unfortunately there weren't any openings for a Scuba Club at the time. Although shortly afterwards the Dolphin Centre contacted the club asking if they could carry out some repairs and re-grouting as it was too expensive for them to drain the pool. They carried out the work, which the centre were very pleased with, and managed to secure a pool session on Monday evenings from 8pm onwards. The centre were a little concerned that the heavy equipment and lead weights might damage the pool tiles, so the club had to cover their weights in inner tubing. After the Monday evening pool sessions the club would meet at Lickey End social club for a drink, moving a little later to the Golden Cross pub.
During the pool move, Mercian Divers chose to affiliate themselves with the Sub-Aqua Association (SAA) and being one of the first clubs to join could be identified by club number 39.
At that time most training dives took place at Stoney Cove or Dosthill, but the club also frequently dived at Warwick Castle working for the Earl of Warwick to recover some artifacts out of the river, under the weir or in the castle well (now named by Madame Tussauds as the toilet!). They managed to discover a musket, musket balls, a brass pump, grappling iron, a brass pig pin cushion and a reed cutters boat. This gained the club some publicity, appearing on BBC news and BRMB interviewed as part of a promotion for a bank holiday opening of the castle. The club was also involved in retrieving a parapet which had been knocked off into the river from one of the bridges during a battle reenactment, the club’s chairman, a builder, replaced it. They also appeared in the local paper headlined as ‘Divers come to School Rescue’ after recovering the school’s netball hoops from the river which had been thrown in by vandals.
Upto this point the club had been using a 8ft 5hp dingy, named the ‘black pig’ which had originally donated to the club. During the late 70s they upgraded it with larger 40hp Poseidon inflatable, a little while after it blew a plug, so it was replaced during the early 80s with a 100hp 15ft Zodiac.
Over the years the club’s membership grew and grew, during the early 80s peaking at around 40. The membership spent most of the their time visiting Devon, Dorset (mostly Portland harbour, which at the time required special permits because it was an active naval base), Wales, Oban, Scilly Isles, and an annual fortnight long trip to Cornwall. Some members travelled abroad and went to the Red Sea and Malta, which were expensive places to visit at the time(!).
On one of the club’s annual trips to Lamorna Cove in Cornwall they managed to locate and lift an old cannon from the Easton Point area of the bay. After recovering and taking ashore, it was transported to Stoney Cove and placed on the far side by the Galleon, where it still resides.
The club suffered some difficult times during the mid to late 80s, unfortunately this resulted in the club membership dropping to only 9 members! With John Mee as Chairman, Mike Hogarth as Treasurer and John Dawson as Diving Officer, plus some help from Mike Burley (SAA Regional Rep) the club managed, by advertising and lots of try-a-dive nights, to boost its membership to healthier levels and kick-start a new era with much more enthusiasm. This effort put the club in a good position helping it to continue to succeed throughout the 90s and 00s.
In 2001 a new boat was purchased, a Valiant 5.3m RIB with 80hp Yamaha engine, it was fitted with a modern electronic sonar fishfinder and GPS. This enabled the club to do more adventurous diving and visit dive sites they hadn’t previously been able to get to such as the Eddystone Lighthouse (10 miles off Plymouth).
The club opened its membership up to include junior members in 2004, since then it has welcomed several families and has succeeded in training many junior members to dive.
In 2010, after lengthy consideration, the club left the SAA (Sub-Aqua Association) and affiliated itself with the BSAC (British Sub-Aqua Association), this meant the club number changed from 39 to 2463. The club has since seen a boost in membership numbers.