Trengrouse's Rocket

Contributed by Cornwall Museums

THIS OBJECT IS PART OF THE PROJECT 'A HISTORY OF CORNWALL IN 100 OBJECTS'.

HELSTON MUSEUM. Trengrouse's invention is credited with saving the lives of many thousands of people. Inspired by the wreck of HMS Anson (see Charlestown) which he witnessed, Henry Trengrouse of Helston made a rocket capable of carrying a life-line to a wrecked ship. Because the rocket's velocity increases gradually it did not break the line. It was also much cheaper and lighter than the mortar system then being tried. Trengrouse's equipment included a chair to bring the crew and passengers ashore. Rocket and chair packed into a chest small enough to be carried on every ship. The rocket system used today was designed by Colonel Boxer.

Trengrouse's rewards were minimal compared to his rivals, though he did receive a silver medal in 1821 from the Society of Arts, and a diamond ring from the Tsar of Russia. He spent most of his inheritance perfecting his invention and lived out his whole life in Helston.

Photo: Bernie Pettersen

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