British Diving Pioneer Peter Judge Dies

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British Diving Pioneer Peter Judge Dies

May 30, 2019 - 16:56

Peter Judge, founder and long time owner of 'Southern Cylinder Services', died on 19 May 2019 from cancer. He would have been 85 this year.

Peter Judge diving a Navy pattern neck entry dry suit. Rob Judge stated "as a child my father would get me to stand on his foot whilst holding tightly to one sleeve, he would then throw me away in order to stretch the neck enough to get his arm in"

A number of stalwarts from the English south coast diving industry have said Peter was a founding figure, a long term fixture and a pioneering diver that helped build and shape our current sport.

Peter Judge was a time served engineer and he did a good job. If he told you something, you knew he was giving you good advice. He worked with the Royal Navy and was testing cylinders long before official testing came in. When was established he soon became a testing station. Peter was instrumental in helping put testing standards in place to keep divers safe.

Tadpoles and Knitted Woollens

Peter Judge came from a time when divers would adapt a Tadpole to make a 3 litre diving cylinder. (Aircrew on Lancaster Bombers would require oxygen when they flew at high altitude and this was contained in a Tadpole cylinder). Peter would also fashion a regulator from a Calor Gas reg, and wetsuits were knitted woollens that were then coated in latex. Later Peter constructed 'modern suits' on the kitchen table from a sheet of rubber using a paper pattern.

Before Peter Judge started working in diving he was based at Aldershot and served with the Royal Engineers. The Royal Engineers were the first British service to dive, and today they continue to serve as Army divers, however his son Rob does not think that Peter dived professionally whilst serving.

Peter was one of the founding members of the Underwater Dolphins at Aldershot and he was also a founding member of TOSSAC. (It would seem that British diving humour never changes). TOSSAC's full name reflected that the sub aqua club was based at 'The Old Ship' pub and today it is fitting that Andark Diving is located directly opposite this pub.

A major influencer

Andy Goddard of stated that Pete Judge was hugely influential on his career.

"There are very few people you come into contact in your life that act as a beacon, and you are forever grateful when that happens. Pete Judge was one such person and he was very important to my diving career. I first met him in about 1969 / 1970. I had learned to dive with the scouts when I as about 12. In those days you needed to be 16 before you could join BSAC. I was lucky in that Pete was forward thinking. He gathered up a group of us and took us diving very close to where Andark is located today. Looking back on it, I don't know if I would have got back into diving if I had been made to wait until I was 16.

Pete Judge was a professional diver and he operated from his home and then from premises behind the Old Ship pub. This was in the pre HSE era, so Pete would take one other person with him to assist him on commercial diving jobs around the south coast. He was highly respected and he grew his business. He did everything from scrubbing the bottom of boats to small inland diving jobs. He also became competent in cylinder testing and regulator servicing. When he hung up his fins the business morphed into as we know it. Eventually the business moved to Fareham. In September 2015 Pete sold the business to Graeme Pace of Ocean View Diving.

I have huge respect for the man. Because of his input and his influence I became a commercial diver when I was 18. Andy Goddard, Andark Diving

Pete organised a lot of amateur sport diving and we dived the south coast of England and the Hamble River. I have huge respect for the man, he was a nice guy. He helped anyone in the business and he was instrumental in getting many people into diving. You can clearly link his diving career to mine - because of his input and his influence I became a commercial diver when I was 18. When I founded Andark in 1976 it was a no-brainer to use Pete Judge do to our servicing."

A positive educator who paid it forwards

Anya Frampton of paid tribute to Peter Judge.

"Peter had a huge influence on my early diving. When I came into this industry 14 years ago from a retail background as a non-diver, I had to learn fast. In an industry dominated by men, neither Peter Judge nor his colleague Gary Stroud made me feel silly or small. They helped me and educated me which is a rare attitude in the old guard. I learned how important it is to keep a cylinder in good condition, and to demonstrate to a customer their cylinder is no longer safe to use.

In an industry dominated by men, Peter Judge helped me and educated me. A rare attitude in the old guard. I was lucky he mentored me. Anya Frampton, Mulberry Divers

Peter would take the time to explain how things worked and would show me, so that when I talked to a customer I could do so from an informed point of view using correct terminology. Today I am a passionate advocate of UK sea diving, and part of that is down to Peter. I would see him on a weekly basis and would leave home early with cylinders to drive to the arches in Fareham so that I had time to chat.

Some would say he was a bit cantankerous, to me he had firm opinions and he would share them. He was bold in his speech. Peter was generous and nothing was ever too much. He really cared. He would bent over backwards to help us and other customers on many occasions.

He provided amazing servicing work for Mulberry Divers for nearly a decade. During that time we never had one single issue with his work, nothing ever went back. He was a lovely old boy and I missed him when he retired. I shall miss him even more. I think I was lucky that he took the time to mentor me."

He empowered divers

, Vice President of the British Sub Aqua Club and BSAC's Wrecks and Cultural Heritage Advisor said that she met Peter Judge in 1973. "We were scrubbing down our boat in the Hamble and Peter spotted us. He came over and we got chatting about the joys of bottom scrubbing.

He taught me how to inspect my equipment so that I would know when it would need servicing. Jane Maddocks. Vice President, BSAC

Peter Judge was sensible, an enthusiastic educator and a genuinely nice person. He always had time and stories for his customers. I took him my regulators and cylinders to test because it was obvious he was keen that equipment should be properly serviced. He knew so much and he taught me what all the bits were and what they did so that I would properly understand and maintain my reg and cylinder. One useful thing I learned from him was kit inspection. It meant that I could look at my equipment and know when it needed servicing."

Peter Judge's Funeral

Peter Judge was married for nearly 65 years. He is survived by his wife Babs and his son Rob.

Rob Judge told me these comments summed up his fathers character exactly. "I had an interesting childhood and learned to dive when I was about 6 or 7 years old in Stokes Bay. My first open water dive was when I was about 10, off Old Harry Rocks out of Swanage, Dorset. He also shaped my career because I too used my diving skills professionally."

Peter Judges funeral will be held on Tuesday 4 June at 13.30 at St Edmunds Church, Stubbington, Hampshire, PO14 3HA. Friends and colleagues are most welcome to attend.

The family has requested that donations are made to , Hampshire, in lieu of flowers.

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