Fuel cell inventor Sir William Grove honoured in home city of Swansea

Sir William Grove, who invented the fuel cell more than 170 years ago, has been honoured in his home city of Swansea in south Wales, with the unveiling of a blue plaque.

William Robert Grove was born in Swansea in 1811. In 1842, he developed the first fuel cell, which produced electrical energy by combining hydrogen and oxygen.

A graduate of Oxford University, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Society, a significant recognition of outstanding scientific endeavour. Grove also became a QC (senior lawyer) in 1853, and was knighted in 1872. He died in 1896, and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery in London.

Professors John Tucker and David Lovering of Swansea University, and Professor David Hart of Imperial College London, gave speeches at the unveiling of the plaque yesterday.

The plaque is outside the divisional police headquarters on Grove Place, marking the spot where Grove lived in a house called The Laurels during his time in Swansea.

A blue plaque is a permanent sign installed in a public place in the UK to commemorate a link between that location and a famous person or event, serving as a historical marker.

‘Our blue plaque scheme is all about recognising and honouring people who have put Swansea on the map over time by achieving great things,’ says Cllr Robert Francis-Davies, Swansea Council Cabinet Member for Enterprise, Development and Regeneration. ‘Sir William Grove, as a leading 19th century light in both law and science, certainly fits the bill.’

‘The esteem in which he continues to be held speaks volumes for his timeless genius, and it’s only right that we, as a council, mark and celebrate his Swansea roots in this way, because his life and story will be fascinating for both residents and visitors to the city,’ he continues. ‘Sir William was an intellectual heavyweight who maintained close links with Swansea right up until his death.’

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Energy storage including Fuel cells