Keys to the Past


Lord Armstrong

1810-1900. William George Armstrong was born in 1810 in Shieldfield, Newcastle, the son of a corn merchant. Although he initially planned to become a lawyer he was long interested in engineering and in the 1840s made a number of inventions including an hydraulic crane. In 1847 Armstrong set up a works at Elswick in Newcastle, which made electrical mechanisms and engines. One of his more important inventions was the Armstrong breech-loading gun was one of his more successful developments. He was made engineer to the war department and given a knighthood. In 1882 his company started building ships. By which time it was the biggest employer on Tyneside, with over 20,000 employees. In 1897 the firm joined with Joseph Whitworth and later became Vickers Armstrong. He used his great wealth to buy and restore Bamburgh Castle and to build Cragside, his mansion near Rothbury. It was the first house in Britain to be lit by hydroelectric power.

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