Engineering experts celebrate Cragside’s 150 years

Staff from National Trust and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers © National Trust

Staff from National Trust and the Institution of Mechanical Engineers

Latest update 21.11.2013 09:52

The Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE) presented the National Trust with an engineering award to mark 150 years of Cragside.

Professor Isobel Pollock, IMechE’s Immediate Past-President, unveiled a plaque rededicating the Engineering Heritage Award, originally given to Cragside in 1985, in a presentation which took place in the stunning surroundings of Cragside House.

The Institution’s prestigious award recognises the 1st Lord Armstrong’s significance as a pioneering engineer and visionary of his time. His hydraulic and hydroelectric inventions were applied throughout the estate and the house was the first in the world to be lit by electricity derived from water power. Lord Armstrong was also President of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers in 1861, 1862 and 1869.

John O’Brien, Cragside’s General Manager, commented;
'It’s an honour to accept this award from the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and, given Lord Armstrong’s passion for engineering, it seems so fitting to mark Cragside’s 150 years in this way'.

Cragside house, built in 1863, was first powered by hydroelectricity in 1878 when Lord Armstrong used water from the lakes on his estate to generate electricity through a turbine. He became involved with engineering through experimentation with hydraulic machinery in his leisure time.

Dr.Eric Fisher, IMechE’s Regional Hon.Secretary, said:
'Lord Armstrong’s work was an outstanding example of the pre-eminent position of the North East in Engineering during his lifetime. We are all fortunate to have Cragside to remind us of his genius.'

The plaque is now positioned in Cragside House’s Jigger Room, where visitors to the house will be able to view it when the house reopens to the public in February next year.

Plans are currently underway to introduce a modern hydro system at Cragside by spring 2014, which will produce enough energy to light Cragside house, and enable Cragside to re-tell the story for which it is famous.