Sir William Henry Preece, Welsh electrical engineer, 1899.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil on canvas painting by Beatrice Bright of Sir William Preece (1834-1913). Born in Gwynedd, Wales, Preece studied at the Royal Institution in London and went on to become a consulting engineer for the Post Office in the 1870s. An early pioneer of wireles telegraphy and telephony, Preece originated his own system in 1892, but his most important contribution in this field was his encouragement of Guglielmo Marconi (1874-1937), winning asistance from the Post Office to further Marconi's work. He also introduced the first telephones into Britain, patented in the United States by Alexander Graham Bell (1847-1922) in 1876. Preece was knighted in 1899.