Hydropower returns to Cragside

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Latest update 30.07.2014 09:32

Visit Cragside in Northumberland from 29 July 2014 and your way will be lit by the power of water as a new Archimedes screw restores hydroelectricity to the first house in the world ever to use it.

The green energy project continues the work of previous owner Lord Armstrong, who used water from the lakes on the estate to generate electricity through a turbine to light the house in 1878. The modern hydro system will produce enough energy to light all 350 light bulbs in the house.

The Archimedes screw will produce 12kw of electricity a year, providing Cragside with around 10 per cent of its electricity. It will also help us meet our target of halving our fossil fuel use and generating 50 per cent of our energy from renewable sources by 2020.

How the screw works

Water to power the screw, a 17m long galvanised turbine weighing several tonnes, will come from Cragside’s Tumbleton lake. As water flows from the lake (the lowest of five on the estate) into the burn below it will pass through spiral blades causing the screw to turn. The energy will then be converted into electricity using a generator.

‘It’s a very visual demonstration of the way hydro power works, an almost sculptural sight in the landscape,’ said Andrew Sawyer, Property Curator at Cragside. ‘Lord Armstrong was an exceptional man with an ingenious mind and the prospect of bringing his vision for Cragside into the 21st century is a dream come true.’

The installation of the Archimedes screw, which will use the lake as a giant fuel tank, realises ambitions we’ve had for Cragside since first acquiring it in 1977 nearly a century after its green energy story first began.

Our clean energy ambitions

Cragside is not the only place we look after benefitting from clean energy. Morden Hall Park's Archimedes screw is busy generating power in South London. Plas Newydd in North Wales is now heated by sea power while a biomass woodfuel burner is helping to keep Dyrham Park’s collections at the right temperature.

We’re hoping to save around £4 million from our energy bill each year by conserving energy.

You can play your part in our energy work by switching to renewable electricity with our energy partner Good Energy. They’ll give us £40 a year towards our renewable energy projects for each new customer who signs up.

More on our renewable energy projects