Modern ‘green’ policies cost money and jobs, and blight the environment. Victorian industrialist Lord Armstrong managed to conserve the environment and yet also trial a range of emerging technologies that now bring comfort and prosperity to hundreds of millions of people.
CRAGSIDE House was developed over several years by Victorian industrialist William Armstrong, starting in 1863.
A keen naturalist, he planted his land with seven million trees and shrubs, chiefly conifers and rhododendrons, and created what remains one of Europe’s largest rock gardens.
Badgers and rare red squirrels scurry in the Cragside woods, while Canada geese, heron, and dragonflies can still be spotted down by the water.
But Armstrong, the first scientist to join the House of Lords, also had a passion for emerging technology. He had made his fortune in the weapons and ship-building industries, and specialised in hydraulics.
At Cragside, he used hydraulic power to drive a laundry and a lift, and in 1870 built the world’s first hydro-electric power station, fed by one of the lakes on his estate. Ten years later, Joseph Swan fitted his revolutionary incandescent electric lighting at Cragside, and considered it his first ‘proper’ installation.
Cragside was where modern living began.