Bindon Blood Stoney’s Diving Bell

A poem by Gary Brown, from the 'If Objects Could Speak' Ports, Past and Present workshop, run by Suzanne Iuppa, July 2021. Based on the diving bell designed by the port engineer Bindon Blood Stoney.


Get to bell before the low tide
Slow down the pipe mind your stride.
Compressed air makes the breathing hard
Working for hours in heat and dark.
Levelling out the seabed get it right
Quay stones to be laid before the night.

Six in our gang in our metal tomb
Under the sea fearing our doom.
Inhaling air from pumps up above
Bursted ear drums noses of blood.
In Stoney’s dream he hatched this plan
A deep sea quay the first in the land.

Put men in a pipe and down to a bell
Working in heat like the fires of hell.
Digging and scraping swinging a pick
Working in a vacuum for 2 quid a week.
Get the job done there’s a quay to be laid
Not for the faint hearted can’t be afraid.

When the river gets angry it’s no place to be
In a bell on the seabed under the sea.
Compressed air in a vacuum below
Six hardy annuals earning their dough.
We’re building a quay for ships big and small
A deep sea dock we call the North Wall.