Tribute to former Newhaven salvage diver

Former salvage diver Ray Todd has died aged 82
Former salvage diver Ray Todd has died aged 82

For Newhaven’s Ray Todd, life had rarely been dull.

Ray died on July 18 at the age of 82-years-old after a career which took him to New Zealand where he worked as a shepherd and had fun as a rodeo rider, to Newhaven where he worked first as a salvage diver and then first mate on the harbour tug Meeching.

Ray, who lived in St Michael’s Cottage, Church Hill, Newhaven, went to New Zealand as a young man and on his return to England, became a hobby diver before setting up his own salvage company in Portsmouth, recovering non-ferrous metals from wrecks.

He moved to Newhaven with his wife Brenda and continued as a diver.

Many of his finds are now in Hastings wreck museum. Some are centuries old, ranging from ivory, muskets and other weapons of war, to fascinating relics of the past such as a gravestone being shipped out to the West Indies in the mid-nineteenth century.

Ray dived in local waters, in the English Channel and the North Sea, often on wartime wrecks, including submarines or as part of a dive team working on commercial enterprises.

Some of the salvage boats he worked on have passed into Newhaven legend – boats such as the Glen Shira, Mount Eden, the Regent Swift and Metrec Vulture.

In later years he became first mate on the tug Meeching, bringing the ferries and larger vessels in and out of the harbour. After eleven years on the tug, Ray retired, but continued to develop his other hobbies. He was an accomplished sign-writer – a skill he learned through a correspondence course while in New Zealand – and enjoyed drawing and painting, as well as writing stories and poems for his sons, Edward and Harry.

Ray’s funeral, attended by family, friends and former colleagues, was held at St Michael’s Church on July 28.