Two Carte lifesaving rockets, c 1849.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This type of lifesaving rocket represents a modification of a design by Sir William Congreve (1772-1828). Congreve pioneered the use of military rockets by the British Army in the early 19th century. As well as being used as a weapon, however, it was realised that Congreve's rockets could be used to save lives; a rocket was capable of carrying a line over 1000 yards to reach a stranded ship.