Albert Fleuss (1855-1933) of Siebe,
Gorman and Co, inventor of the Miners' Rescue Apparatus and
Self-contained breathing apparatus
Born at Axford, Wiltshire, the son of Henry Joseph Fleuss (1811–1888)
and his wife Charlotte Sophie Kolbach (1822–1891)
November 30th. Married Rosabella Fane
1878 he was granted a patent for the first practical self contained
breathing apparatus, which consisted of a rubber mask connected to a
breathing bag, with (estimated) 50-60% O2 supplied from a copper tank
and CO2 scrubbed by rope yarn soaked in a solution of caustic potash,
the system giving a duration of about three hours.
Fleuss tested his device by spending an hour submerged in a water tank,
then one week later by diving to a depth of 5.5m in open water, upon
which occasion he was slightly injured when his assistants abruptly
pulled him to the surface.
Henry Albert Fleuss in conjunction with Siebe
and Gorman produced the first practicable self-contained oxygen
His equipment used by Alexander
Lambert in the recovery of the Severn
Birth of daughter Ethel Rosabelle Fleuss (1882–1893)
Birth of son Albert Henry Fleuss (1883–1939)
Partnership dissolved. '...the Partnership here-tofore subsisting
between us the undersigned, Henry Albert Fleuss and Richard Charles
Ashby, trading together as Umbrella Manufacturers, under the style or
firm of Fleuss
and Ashby, at 2, Fountain-court, Aldermanbury, in the city of
London, has this day been dissolved by mutual consent....'
Living at Knowle Green, Staines: Henry A. Heuss (sic) (age 49 born
Axford, Wiltshire), Consulting Engineer, own account. With his wife
Rosabelle Fleuss (age 44 born Southampton) and their son Albert H. Heuss
(age 19 born Newton, IOW), Pupil Architect. Two servants.
Living at Dunstan Lodge, Thatcham, Berks: Henry Albert Fleuss (age 59
born Axford, Wilts), Engineer Specialist in Air Pumps. First Inventor of
Miners Rescue Apparatus etc. Widower and working as a consulting
engineer on own account. One servant Annie Grace Redknapp. 
time before the First World War, the Fleuss-Davis independent breathing
set for hardhat divers appeared. This device consisted of two
10-cubic-foot (280 Litre) tanks, one each for compressed air and oxygen.
The gases were mixed in a manifold between the two tanks and the diver's
mouthpiece. The manufacturer claimed success of this unit to depths of
also invented the Fleuss vacuum pump which was a double action Guericke
type pump which delivers an almost constant suction. It uses a cylinder
divided in halves: as one half of the cylinder is filled with air, the
other half is evacuating air to the atmosphere by one stroke of the
pump. The next stroke reverses this action, producing the constant flow.
January 6th. Died. Of Tor cottage, Thordon Cross, Okehampton, in Devon.
Left estate to Annie Grace Redknapp, spinster and Percy Harry Giles,
Henry Fleuss met his
watery demise in 1932 when he tested his own invention during a dive.
The pure oxygen used in the rebreather was fatal. Thought
to be INCORRECT
Henry Albert Fleuss
(1851–1933) was a pioneering diving engineer, and Master Diver for
Siebe, Gorman & Co. of London.
Fleuss was born in Marlborough,
Wiltshire in 1851.
Albert Fleuss was bom in Wiltshire, England in 1851. At the age of
sixteen he went to sea, eventually becoming an officer with the P&O
Company. Whilst watching divers recovering lost cargo in their heavy and
cumbersome apparatus, Fleuss was inspired to find a way of making the
diver independent of the surface and thus dispense with the heavy pump
and the large crew of men needed to operate the apparatus.
Having studied the necessary
physiology and chemistry in his spare time, Fleuss concluded that if the
diver carried with him a supply of compressed oxygen and a means of
chemically absorbing carbon dioxide, then he could remain completely
independent of the surface. In 1878 he left the P&O and set about
building his first self-contained diving apparatus. He proved to be both
resourceful and innovative, building much of the apparatus himself,
including a means of generating and compressing oxygen.
Fleuss had no previous
experience of diving yet fearlessly tested his invention himself,
attracting widespread interest through public demonstrations. A second,
much improved model proved its worth in the flooded Severn Tunnel.
Although there was considerable publicity for Fleuss and his apparatus,
its significant potential as a means of rescuing trapped miners diverted
attention away from its diving applications.
Fleuss collaborated with Robert
Davis at the Siebe Gorman Company and developed the self-contained
diving apparatus further. The Davis Submarine Escape Apparatus was a
neat and compact derivative of the Fleuss apparatus and it also found
use as a shallow diving apparatus, paving the way for the Frogmen and
Human Torpedo riders of World War II.
Henry Fleuss was an habitual
inventor, turning his mind to solving many diverse problems. He went on
to produce the first practical tubeless tyres, the highly efficient
Gerryck vacuum pumps, a steam car and more besides. However, it is for
his pioneering work in developing the first practical closed-circuit
breathing apparatus for mine rescue and diving that he will always be
remembered. He died in 1933.
Fleuss: An Early SCUBA Pioneer
Henry Fleuss (1851-1933) was a diving engineer for Siebe, Gorman &
Co. of London. He is widely recognized as a pioneer in the field of
diving and some even credit him as the first SCUBA diver. You didn't
think it was Jacques Cousteau, did you?
Though he is credited with many other inventions including the Fleuss
vacuum pump and a steam car, it is widely accepted that his most
important was for the first self-contained breathing apparatus (SCUBA)
using pure compressed oxygen. Originally designed in 1876, he was
granted a patent for the apparatus in 1878 which freed the diver from
having to rely on breathing surface-supplied air.
The apparatus consisted of a rubber mask, a breathing bag, a copper
tank to hold the oxygen, and a scrubber. The closed-circuit system was
designed to reuse the oxygen by removing the carbon dioxide using a
rope yarn soaked in a solution of caustic potash. Originally used to
rescue mine workers, Fleuss was lauded for this early SCUBA apparatus.
Its revolutionary and brilliant design became an invaluable piece of
equipment for military operations during WWII. The Fleuss rebreather
came to be preferred over all other available diving apparatus because
it offered the diver total concealment (no air bubbles!).
the Fleuss rebreather limited the diver's working depth due to the
threat of oxygen toxicity, it was truly revolutionary and is without a
doubt a very important part of diving history.