Cragside is a wonder of the Victorian age, the place ‘a magician of the north’ created as a crucible of invention. William, Baron Armstrong of Cragside, was decades ahead of his times in the way he harnessed nature to generate both hydraulic and electrical power, making Cragside the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity.
Armstrong created one of Britain’s largest engineering companies, manufacturing cranes, bridges, ships and steam locomotives at his factories along the River Tyne in Newcastle. With the profits, he employed Richard Norman Shaw to enlarge a simple villa into an impressive country house that he used to entertain royalty and business customers from all over the world. It pioneered many of the domestic conveniences which we now take for granted and acted as a showcase for the engineering prowess of Armstrong’s companies.
The guidebook describes the pleasure Armstrong derived from planning and developing the estate, woodlands and gardens around the house, as well as its decline under his descendants before rescue by the National Trust.
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