A rare pair of early twentieth century Siebe Gorman diving boots.
Constructed of leather, lead and with brass toe caps, these diving boots were useful for both protecting the diver’s feet whilst working on the seabed and for providing additional weight to the submerged diver to counteract the effect of the positive buoyancy created in the air filled helmet.
The company of Siebe Gorman has a long and illustrious history, founded originally as A. Siebe after Augustus Siebe, a Prussian artillery officer who was present at both the Battle of Leipzig and also the Battle of Waterloo. A year after Waterloo, Siebe moved to London to become a mechanical engineer and invented a rotating water pump that marked the start of his fortune. Commissioned in the early 1830’s to redesign the Deane Brothers smoke helmet into a diving helmet, after numerous developments in 1839, the first full dress diving suit and helmet was created and was being actively used by the Royal Navy in salvage operations by 1840.
Siebe continued to design and develop diving equipment until his retirement in 1868 after which point the company of Siebe & Gorman was formed. The partnership was comprised of his son Henry Siebe and his son in law the Sea Captain William Gorman, it remained trading from the address of 5 Denmark Street, London.
Siebe died in 1887 but Gorman maintained control of the company until his death in 1904 whereafter it was sold to the Vickers family most famous for creating the Vicker’s machine gun and turned into a limited company in 1905. It became a public company in 1952 and moved its operations out of London to Wales in 1975. In 1999 it merged with a company named BTR and renamed itself as Invensys and was finally merged with a French parent company called Schneider in 2014.