Hydropower returns to Cragside

The Archimedes screw in situ at Cragside, Northumberland

A new Archimedes screw restores hydroelectricity to Cragside in Northumberland, 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.

How it works

The Archimedes screw is a 17m long galvanised turbine weighing several tonnes. Last year, it produced 21,000kwh, providing Cragside with around 4% 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.
Water to power the screw 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 bringing his vision for Cragside into the 21st century is a dream come true.’

Green heritage

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.
Cragside is not the only place we look after benefiting 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.