Sir William Congreve

Sir William Congreve

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Area Wimbledon Village
Copyright 1 National Portrait Gallery
Picture Reference Wim_​29_​7-1
Original Format Photo
Notes / History Having joined the Royal Artillery at an early age, Sir William Congreve,
1772 – 1828, rose to the rank of Lieutenant-colonel. In 1791 he was stationed at the Royal Laboratory at Woolwich where he undertook a series of experiments. These led to the creation of the Congreve rocket in 1808.

This early missile could reach a target some 2 kilometres away, with relative accuracy. After testing them on Wimbledon Common it was used during the Napoleonic War. Although the rockets did little damage, their novelty caused terror and confusion amongst the enemy troops.

He was awarded a Fellowship of the Royal Society in 1811 and made a baronet in 1814.

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