24th June 1909 –  March 3rd 1991

Lord William George Penney of East Hendred. O.M ( Order of Merit ) ,  K.B.E. (Knight of the British Empire ), Ph.D. (Doctor of Philosophy),D.Sc.(Doctor of Science ), F.R.S (Fellow of the Royal Society )  


He originally lived in “ The Hut “ at Rushenden and first wife was Adele Minnie Elms from Queenborough married 1935 she died 1944 . They had two children , he then married Eleanor Joan Quinell from Brentwood Essex no issue.

(His sister married Leslie Norman Hogan from Scarborough Drive Minster )

His coat of arms  was the first of the Arms to consist of modern day symbols , Electrons etc.


He was born in Gibraltar where his father William  Alfred Penney was born Jan 23rd 1881 ,and he  died Sept 24th 1979 (aged 98)at Blair Park Sittingbourne, he  was a Sergeant in the Army Ordnance Corp and his father was George Penney a joiner/shipwright  born 1848  in Sheerness ,he  died 1925 aged 75.

 Lord Penney ( he always preferred to be called “Bill “ ) was educated at Sheerness Technical School ,Imperial College London (B.Sc with 1st class honours at age 20) then University of Wisconsin  for his Masters  Degree (1931-1933) then  to Trinity College Cambridge for his Ph.D. (1933-1936)  .he then returned to Imperial College London as Assistant  Professor  of Mathemetics (1936- 1945).Scientific work for Ministry of Home Security and Admiralty( 1940-1944). Department of  Scientific and Industrial Research at  LosAlmos Laboratory , New Mexico (1944-1945 ),Chief Superintendent  Armament Research Ministry of Supply (1946- 1952) .Fellow of the Royal Society 1946 , O.B.E.,1946.  Knighted 1952, Director of  Atomic Weapons Research Establishment  Aldermaston 1953- 1959. Member for Weapons R.& D 1954- 1959. Treasurer for The Royal Society 1956- 1960.  Vice President 1957- 1960. Member for Research U.K Atomic Energy Authority 1951-1961. Deputy Chairman 1961- 1964. Chairman 1964- 1967. Created Baron Penney 1967..Rector of Imperial College 1967- 1973 F.R.S. (Edingburgh). For services to the United States he was one of the first recipients of the United States Medal of Freedom awarded by the President . etc etc. etc.


William George Penney was a British physicist who was responsible for the development  of British nuclear technology .A mathematician by training , he became an expert on wave dynamics.He was one of the worlds leading authorities on the effects of nuclear weapons .


During  the early years of World War 2, he was loaned out to the  Home Office and the Admiralty. He designed and supervised the development of  the Mulberry harbours that would be placed  off the Normandy Beaches during the D-Day Invasion. In 1943 he was released from his duties at Imperial College to work on the Tube Alloys Project. And shortly before D-Day  he returned to America  to work at Los Alamos as part of the British delegation  to the Manhattan Project. On the Manhattan Project Bill Penney worked on the use of the Atomic Bomb , its effect and in particular the height at which it should be detonated. He quickly gained recognition for his varied talents , his leadership qualities and his ability to work in harmony with others.

In July of 1946 he was invited to be present at the Bikini Atoll in the Marshall Islands and wrote the after action reports on the effects of the two A-Bomb detonations His reputation was further advanced when , after  the sophisticated test apparatus of the Americans failed, he was able to  determine the blast power using observations from his specially placed piles of discarded oil drums.


The first British nuclear bomb test ,Operation Hurricane , conducted 3rd October 1952 off the west coast of Australia  in the Monte Bell Islands was organised and directed by William Penney.

And was 10 times greater than the first U.S. nuclear fission weapon.


W.G.Penney also served on the Target Committee which met in April and May 1945 to select the Japanese cities upon which to drop the Atomic Bombs and he was an observer  at the 16th July bomb test at Trinity site  in New Mexico and on 9th August 1945 he witnessed the bombing of Nagasaki from one of the observation planes that accompanied the Nagasaki mission bomber ENOLA GAY. He was a member of the U.S. team of military and scientific analysts  who entered the rubble of Hiroshima to assess the effects of the Atomic Bomb  of August 6th 1945 .After completion of the Bikini tests Dr. Penney returned to England to undertake development of the first Atomic Bomb

In January 1947 Clement Attlee appointed him Chief Superintendent of Armament  Research and placed him in charge of designing , producing  , and testing the British A-Bomb

Imperial College built and named the William Penney Laboratory after him.


 ( Mainly  taken fron Wikipedia , the free  enclycopedia )


On one of my visits to Blair Park to see Bill’s father William Alfred  he was very upset  as he had  received   letters from people who called him nasty rude names for having a nasty son who helped to kill and main thousands of Japanese people.


SONS OF SHEPPEY yet to come are ;-

Admiral Coward

Admiral Kenneth Easton

Hooker ,who worked with Mitchell on the Spitfire  during the War to increase their attack speed.

Charter Mayor of Dartford (another Penney )

Any suggestions also ,please.


In the early days at the Technical School  prior to 1960 when Mr Harrap was the Head  Sir William  came to the school  for Prizegiving and presented the Prizes to the boys  with a few kind words of encouragement.


Tony Clenaghen was also a lab assistant at the same time as Bill Penney and tells the tale that in either the Chemistry Laboratory or in Room 7 at the top of the main staircase  I forget which , there was a chimney that led to the roof and Bill managed to climb  inside this funnel to the top and sign his name – this was a very difficult thing to do and over the years only a few boys  were able to follow his example.

When the school was being demolished ( shame !!) I tried to find this signature but I was too late , it  was lost among the rubbish.

Tony went off to one University and Bill went to a different one


Sheerness Times Guardian in September 1939 lists

PENNEY  W.G           (DR)                THE HUT   Rushenden as an Air Raid Warden


When the Prime Minister Macmillan visited the Atomic Center  it was suggested that when asked a question by the P.M it  should be answered by another member of the team as perhaps the P.M would not understand the Sheppey Accent .


Bill’s father William Alfred was  the Master of the Sheerness  De Shurland Lodge Of Freemasons and on his death Bill gave his fathers Masonic Jewels  back to the Lodge to be passed on to another Master. This was appreciated by the members of the Lodge.