Henry Trengrouse - Engineer and Inventor

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Henry Trengrouse
Henry Trengrouse

Henry Trengrouse was born in Helston in 1772 and was educated at Helston Grammar School. He went on to become a cabinet maker. In 1807 he witnessed the sinking of the "Anson" off the Loe Bar and as a consequence, he devoted his life to inventing life-saving equipment.

Trengrouse invented the rocket powered rescue system for ships in distress, which he named the Bosun's Chair. It ultimately saved over 20,000 lives and was what came to be known as the breeches buoy. He also devised the life jacket.

Although the British Government failed to recognise his achievemnts, the Russians invited Trengrouse to St. Petersburg to develop the invention: an offer that he declined. The Society of Arts awarded Trengrouse their silver medal and gave him a grant of thirty guineas.

HMS Anson Memorial - Loe Bar
HMS Anson Memorial

Eventually the government ordered twenty of Trengrouse’s rescue systems and, having examined the equipment, decided to manufacture it for themselves, giving Trengrouse a mere £50 in compensation. The Czar of Russia gave Trengrouse a diamond ring in recognition of lives saved in the Baltic using his invention.

On his deathbed he told his son "If you live to be as old as I am, you will find my rocket apparatus along our shores", a prediction that was to become true.

Trengrouse died in 1854, having spent his whole life in Helston. His name is commemorated in the name of a road there