William George Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong
William George Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong CB, FRS
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...

 (26 November 1810 – 27 December 1900) was an effective Tyneside
Tyneside is a conurbation in North East England, defined by the Office of National Statistics, which is home to over 80% of the population of Tyne and Wear. It includes the city of Newcastle upon Tyne and the Metropolitan Boroughs of Gateshead, North Tyneside and South Tyneside — all settlements on...

 industrialist who founded the Armstrong Whitworth
Armstrong Whitworth
Sir W G Armstrong Whitworth & Co Ltd was a major British manufacturing company of the early years of the 20th century. Headquartered in Elswick, Newcastle upon Tyne, Armstrong Whitworth engaged in the construction of armaments, ships, locomotives, automobiles, and aircraft.-History:In 1847,...

 manufacturing empire.

Early life

Armstrong was born in Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne
Newcastle upon Tyne is a city and metropolitan borough of Tyne and Wear, in North East England. Historically a part of Northumberland, it is situated on the north bank of the River Tyne...

, at 9 Pleasant Row, Shieldfield, about a mile from the city centre. Although the house no longer exists, an inscribed granite tablet marks the spot at which the house in which he was born once stood. At that time the area, next to the Pandon Dene, was rural. His father, also called William, was a corn merchant on the Newcastle quayside, who became mayor of Newcastle in 1850. An older sister, Anne, born in 1802, was named after his mother, the daughter of Addison Potter.

Armstrong was educated at private schools in Newcastle and Whickham
Whickham is a town in North East England, four miles south west of Newcastle upon Tyne and four and a half miles west of Gateshead. Whickham is part of the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead. Its postal address is Whickham, Newcastle upon Tyne. Whickham is situated on high ground overlooking the...

, near Gateshead
Gateshead is a town in Tyne and Wear, England and is the main settlement in the Metropolitan Borough of Gateshead. Historically a part of County Durham, it lies on the southern bank of the River Tyne opposite Newcastle upon Tyne and together they form the urban core of Tyneside...

 until he was sixteen, when he was sent to Bishop Auckland
Bishop Auckland
Bishop Auckland is a market town and civil parish in County Durham in north east England. It is located about northwest of Darlington and southwest of Durham at the confluence of the River Wear with its tributary the River Gaunless...

 Grammar School. While there, he often visited the nearby engineering works of William Ramshaw. During his visits he met his future wife, Ramshaw’s daughter Margaret, six years his senior.

Armstrong’s father was set on him following a career in the law, and so he was articled to Armorer Donkin, a solicitor friend of his father’s. He spent five years in London
London is the capital city of :England and the :United Kingdom, the largest metropolitan area in the United Kingdom, and the largest urban zone in the European Union by most measures. Located on the River Thames, London has been a major settlement for two millennia, its history going back to its...

 studying law and returned to Newcastle in 1833. In 1835 he became a partner in Donkin’s business and the firm became Donkin, Stable and Armstrong. Armstrong married Margaret Ramshaw in 1835, and they built a house in Jesmond Dene
Jesmond Dene
Jesmond Dene is a public park in the east end of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It occupies the narrow steep-sided valley of a small stream known as the Ouseburn: in North-east England, such valleys are commonly known as denes....

, on the eastern edge of Newcastle. Armstrong worked for eleven years as a solicitor, but during his spare time he showed great interest in engineering.

Change of career

Armstrong was a very keen angler, and while fishing on the River Dee
River Dee (Lune)
The River Dee is a river running through the extreme south east of Cumbria, a part of the Craven region traditionally part of the West Riding of Yorkshire....

 at Dentdale
Dent (Lonsdale)
Dent is a small village and civil parish in Cumbria, England, nestling in a narrow valley on the western slopes of the Pennines within the Yorkshire Dales National Park...

 in the Pennines
The Pennines are a low-rising mountain range, separating the North West of England from Yorkshire and the North East.Often described as the "backbone of England", they form a more-or-less continuous range stretching from the Peak District in Derbyshire, around the northern and eastern edges of...

, he saw a waterwheel in action, supplying power to a marble quarry. It struck Armstrong that much of the available power was being wasted. When he returned to Newcastle, he designed a rotary engine powered by water, and this was built in the High Bridge works of his friend Henry Watson. Unfortunately, little interest was shown in the engine. Armstrong subsequently developed a piston engine instead of a rotary one and decided that it might be suitable for driving a hydraulic crane. In 1846 his work as an amateur scientist was recognized when he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society
Royal Society
The Royal Society of London for Improving Natural Knowledge, known simply as the Royal Society, is a learned society for science, and is possibly the oldest such society in existence. Founded in November 1660, it was granted a Royal Charter by King Charles II as the "Royal Society of London"...


In 1845 a scheme was set in motion to provide piped water from distant reservoirs to the households of Newcastle. Armstrong was involved in this scheme and he proposed to Newcastle Corporation that the excess water pressure in the lower part of town could be used to power a Quayside
The Quayside is an area along the banks of the River Tyne in Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead in the North East of England, United Kingdom....

 crane specially adapted by himself. He claimed that his hydraulic crane could unload ships faster and more cheaply than conventional cranes. The Corporation agreed to his suggestion, and the experiment proved so successful that three more hydraulic cranes were installed on the Quayside.

The success of his hydraulic crane led Armstrong to consider setting up a business to manufacture cranes and other hydraulic equipment. He therefore resigned from his legal practice. Donkin, his legal colleague, supported him in his career move, providing financial backing for the new venture. In 1847 the firm of W.G. Armstrong & Company bought 5.5 acres (22,257.7 m²) of land alongside the river at Elswick
Elswick, Tyne and Wear
Elswick is a ward of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne, England, in the western part of the city, bordering the river Tyne. One of the earliest references to the coal mining industry of the north east occurs in 1330, when it was recorded that the Prior of Tynemouth let a colliery, called Heygrove, at...

, near Newcastle, and began to build a factory there. The new company received orders for hydraulic cranes from Edinburgh and Northern Railways and from Liverpool Docks
Port of Liverpool
The Port of Liverpool is the name for the enclosed 7.5 mile dock system that runs from Brunswick Dock in Liverpool to Seaforth Dock, Seaforth, on the east side of the River Mersey and the Birkenhead Docks between Birkenhead and Wallasey on the west side of the river...

, as well as for hydraulic machinery for dock gates in Grimsby
Grimsby is a seaport on the Humber Estuary in Lincolnshire, England. It has been the administrative centre of the unitary authority area of North East Lincolnshire since 1996...

. The company soon began to expand. In 1850 the company produced 45 cranes and two years later, 75. It averaged 100 cranes per year for the rest of the century. In 1850 over 300 men were employed at the works, but by 1863 this had risen to 3,800. The company soon branched out into bridge building, one of the first orders being for the Inverness
Inverness is a city in the Scottish Highlands. It is the administrative centre for the Highland council area, and is regarded as the capital of the Highlands of Scotland...

 Bridge, completed in 1855.

Hydraulic accumulator

Armstrong was responsible for developing the hydraulic accumulator
Hydraulic accumulator
A 'hydraulic accumulator' is an energy storage device. It is a pressure storage reservoir in which a non-compressible hydraulic fluid is held under pressure by an external source. That external source can be a spring, a raised weight, or a compressed gas...

. Where water pressure was not available on site for the use of hydraulic cranes, Armstrong often built high water towers to provide a supply of water at pressure. However, when supplying cranes for use at New Holland
New Holland, North Lincolnshire
New Holland is a small village, civil parish and port on the Humber estuary in the Borough of North Lincolnshire in Lincolnshire, England. It has a population of 955.-History:...

 on the Humber Estuary, he was unable to do this because the foundations consisted of sand. After much careful thought he produced the hydraulic accumulator, a cast-iron cylinder fitted with a plunger supporting a very heavy weight. The plunger would slowly be raised, drawing in water, until the downward force of the weight was sufficient to force the water below it into pipes at great pressure. The accumulator was a very significant, if unspectacular, invention, which found many applications in the following years.


In 1854, during the Crimean War
Crimean War
The Crimean War was a conflict fought between the Russian Empire and an alliance of the French Empire, the British Empire, the Ottoman Empire, and the Kingdom of Sardinia. The war was part of a long-running contest between the major European powers for influence over territories of the declining...

, Armstrong read about the difficulties the British Army
British Army
The British Army is the land warfare branch of Her Majesty's Armed Forces in the United Kingdom. It came into being with the unification of the Kingdom of England and Scotland into the Kingdom of Great Britain in 1707. The new British Army incorporated Regiments that had already existed in England...

 experienced in manoeuvring its heavy field guns. He decided to design a lighter, more mobile field gun, with greater range and accuracy. He built a breech-loading gun with a strong, rifled barrel made from wrought iron wrapped around a steel inner lining, designed to fire a shell rather than a ball. In 1855 he had a five-pounder ready for inspection by a government committee. The gun proved successful in trials, but the committee thought a higher caliber gun was needed, so Armstrong built an 18-pounder on the same design. After trials, this gun was declared to be superior to all its rivals. Armstrong surrendered the patent for the gun to the British government, rather than profit from its design. As a result he was created a Knight Bachelor
Knight Bachelor
The rank of Knight Bachelor is a part of the British honours system. It is the most basic rank of a man who has been knighted by the monarch but not as a member of one of the organised Orders of Chivalry...

 and in 1859 was presented to Queen Victoria. Armstrong became employed as Engineer of Rifled Ordnance to the War Department
War Department (UK)
The War Department was the United Kingdom government department responsible for the supply of equipment to the armed forces of the United Kingdom and the pursuance of military activity. In 1857 it became the War Office...

. In order to avoid a conflict of interests if his own company were to manufacture armaments, Armstrong created a separate company, called Elswick Ordnance Company, in which he had no financial involvement. The new company agreed to manufacture armaments for the British government and no other. Under his new position, Armstrong worked to bring the old Woolwich Arsenal
Royal Arsenal
The Royal Arsenal, Woolwich, originally known as the Woolwich Warren, carried out armaments manufacture, ammunition proofing and explosives research for the British armed forces. It was sited on the south bank of the River Thames in Woolwich in south-east London, England.-Early history:The Warren...

 up to date so that it could build guns designed at Elswick.

However, just when it looked as if the new gun was about to become a great success, a great deal of opposition to the gun arose, both inside the army and from rival arms manufacturers, particularly Joseph Whitworth
Joseph Whitworth
Sir Joseph Whitworth, 1st Baronet was an English engineer, entrepreneur, inventor and philanthropist. In 1841, he devised the British Standard Whitworth system, which created an accepted standard for screw threads...

 of Manchester
Manchester is a city and metropolitan borough in Greater Manchester, England. According to the Office for National Statistics, the 2010 mid-year population estimate for Manchester was 498,800. Manchester lies within one of the UK's largest metropolitan areas, the metropolitan county of Greater...

. Stories were publicised that the new gun was too difficult to use, that it was too expensive, that it was dangerous to use, that it frequently needed repair and so on. All of this smacked of a concerted campaign against Armstrong. Armstrong was able to refute all of these claims in front of various government committees, but he found the constant criticism very wearying and depressing. In 1862 the government decided to stop ordering the new gun and return to muzzle loaders. Also, because of a drop in demand, future orders for guns would be supplied from Woolwich, leaving Elswick without new business. Compensation was eventually agreed with the government for the loss of business to the company. Unfortunately, the government would not release the company from its agreement not to sell armaments abroad, so that avenue was closed to it. Eventually, the restriction was relaxed, and the company was able to sell guns to both sides in the American Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...



In 1864 the two companies, W.G. Armstrong & Company and Elswick Ordnance Company merged to form Sir W.G. Armstrong & Company. Armstrong had resigned from his employment with the War Office, so there was no longer a conflict of interest. The company turned its attention to naval guns. In 1867 Armstrong reached an agreement with Charles Mitchell, a shipbuilder in Low Walker, whereby Mitchells would build warships and Elswick would provide the guns. The first ship, in 1868 was HMS Staunch, a gunboat.

In 1876, because the 18th century bridge at Newcastle restricted access by ships to the Elswick works, Armstrong’s company paid for a new Swing Bridge
Swing Bridge, River Tyne
The Swing Bridge is a swing bridge over the River Tyne, England connecting Newcastle upon Tyne and Gateshead, and lies between the Tyne Bridge and the High Level Bridge. The hydraulic power to move the bridge is derived from electrically driven pumps...

 to be built, so that warships could have their guns fitted at Elswick. In 1882 Armstrong’s company merged with Mitchells to form Sir William Armstrong, Mitchell and Co. Ltd. and in 1884 a shipyard opened at Elswick to specialise in warship production. The first vessels produced were the torpedo cruisers Panther
SMS Panther (1885)
SMS Panther was a torpedo cruiser of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. She and her sister ship, Leopard, were part of a program to build up Austria-Hungary's fleet of torpedo craft in the 1880s.-Design:...

 and Leopard
SMS Leopard
SMS Leopard was a torpedo cruiser of the Austro-Hungarian Navy. She and her sister ship, SMS Panther, were part of a program to build up Austria-Hungary's fleet of torpedo craft in the 1880s.-Design:...

 for the Austro-Hungarian Navy
Austro-Hungarian Navy
The Austro-Hungarian Navy was the naval force of Austria-Hungary. Its official name in German was Kaiserliche und Königliche Kriegsmarine , abbreviated as k.u.k. Kriegsmarine....

. The first battleship produced at Elswick was H.M.S Victoria
HMS Victoria (1887)
HMS Victoria was the lead ship in her class of two battleships of the Royal Navy. On 22 June 1893, she collided with near Tripoli, Lebanon during manoeuvres and quickly sank, taking 358 crew with her, including the commander of the British Mediterranean Fleet, Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon...

, launched in 1887. The ship was originally to be named Renown, but the name was changed in honour of the Queen's Golden Jubilee. Armstrong drove the first and last rivets. The ship was ill-fated, as she was involved in a collision with H.M.S. Camperdown in 1893 and sank with the loss of 358 men, including Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon
George Tryon
Vice-Admiral Sir George Tryon, KCB was a British admiral who died when his flagship HMS Victoria collided with HMS Camperdown during manoeuvres off Tripoli, Lebanon.-Early life:...

. An important customer of the Elswick yard was Japan
Japan is an island nation in East Asia. Located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south...

, which took several cruisers, some of which defeated the Russian fleet at the Battle of Tsushima
Battle of Tsushima
The Battle of Tsushima , commonly known as the “Sea of Japan Naval Battle” in Japan and the “Battle of Tsushima Strait”, was the major naval battle fought between Russia and Japan during the Russo-Japanese War...

 in 1905. It was claimed that every Japanese gun used in the battle was provided by Elswick. Elswick was the only factory in the world that could build a battleship and arm it completely.

The Elswick works continued to prosper, and by 1870 it stretched for three-quarters of a mile along the riverside. The population of Elswick, which was 3,539 in 1851, had increased by 1871 to 27,800. In 1894, Elswick built and installed the steam-driven pumping engines, hydraulic accumulators and hydraulic pumping engines to operate London’s Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge
Tower Bridge is a combined bascule and suspension bridge in London, England, over the River Thames. It is close to the Tower of London, from which it takes its name...

. In 1897 the company merged with the company of Armstrong’s old rival, Joseph Whitworth, and became Sir W.G. Armstrong, Whitworth & Co Ltd. Whitworth was by this time dead.

Armstrong gathered many excellent engineers at Elswick. Notable among them were Andrew Noble and George Wightwick Rendel
George Wightwick Rendel
George Wightwick Rendel was a British engineer, and naval architect. He was closely associated with the Tyneside industrialist and armaments manufacturer, William George Armstrong.-Family:...

, whose design of gun-mountings and hydraulic control of gun-turrets were adopted worldwide. Rendel introduced the cruiser as a naval vessel. There was great rivalry and dislike between Noble and Rendel, which became open after Armstrong’s death.


From 1863 onwards, although Armstrong remained the head of his company, he became less involved in its day-to-day running. He appointed several very able men to senior positions and they continued his work. When he married, he acquired Jesmond Dene House
Jesmond Dene House
Jesmond Dene House is a 19th century mansion house at Jesmond Dene, Newcastle upon Tyne, England which is now a hotel. It is a Grade II listed building....

, a house to the west of Jesmond Dene
Jesmond Dene
Jesmond Dene is a public park in the east end of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It occupies the narrow steep-sided valley of a small stream known as the Ouseburn: in North-east England, such valleys are commonly known as denes....

, Newcastle and began to landscape and improve land that he bought within the Dene. In 1860 he paid local architect John Dobson
John Dobson (architect)
John Dobson was a 19th-century English architect in the neoclassical tradition. He became the most noted architect in the North of England. Churches and houses by him dot the North East - Nunnykirk Hall, Meldon Park, Mitford Hall, Lilburn Tower, St John the Baptist Church in Otterburn,...

 to design a banqueting hall in the Dene. His house close to Newcastle was convenient for his practice as a solicitor and his work as an industrialist, but when he had more spare time he longed for a house in the country.

He had often visited Rothbury
Rothbury is a town and civil parish in Northumberland, England. It is located on the River Coquet, northwest of Morpeth and north-northwest of Newcastle upon Tyne...

 as a child, when he was afflicted by a severe cough, and he had fond memories of the area. In 1863 he bought some land in a steep-sided, narrow valley where the Debdon Burn flows towards the River Coquet
River Coquet
The River Coquet runs through the county of Northumberland, England, discharging into the North Sea on the east coast of England at Amble. Warkworth Castle is built in a loop of the Coquet....

 near Rothbury. He had the land cleared and supervised the building of a house perched on a ledge of rock, overlooking the burn. He also supervised a programme of planting trees and mosses so as to cover the rocky hillside with vegetation. His new house was called Cragside
Cragside is a country house in the civil parish of Cartington in Northumberland, England. It was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectric power...

, and over the years Armstrong added to the Cragside estate. Eventually the estate was 1729 acres (7 km²) and had seven million trees planted, together with five artificial lakes and 31 miles (49.9 km) of carriage drives. The lakes were used to generate hydro-electricity, and the house was the first in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity, using incandescent lamps provided by the inventor Joseph Swan
Joseph Swan
Sir Joseph Wilson Swan was a British physicist and chemist, most famous for the invention of the incandescent light bulb for which he received the first patent in 1878...


As Armstrong spent less and less time at the Elswick works, he spent more and more time at Cragside
Cragside is a country house in the civil parish of Cartington in Northumberland, England. It was the first house in the world to be lit using hydroelectric power...

, and it became his main home. In 1869 he commissioned the celebrated architect Richard Norman Shaw
Richard Norman Shaw
Richard Norman Shaw RA , was an influential Scottish architect from the 1870s to the 1900s, known for his country houses and for commercial buildings.-Life:...

 to enlarge and improve the house, and this was done over a period of 15 years. In 1883 Armstrong gave Jesmond Dene
Jesmond Dene
Jesmond Dene is a public park in the east end of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It occupies the narrow steep-sided valley of a small stream known as the Ouseburn: in North-east England, such valleys are commonly known as denes....

, together with its banqueting hall to the city of Newcastle. He retained his house next to the Dene. Armstrong entertained several eminent guests at Cragside, including the Shah of Persia, the King of Siam
Thailand , officially the Kingdom of Thailand , formerly known as Siam , is a country located at the centre of the Indochina peninsula and Southeast Asia. It is bordered to the north by Burma and Laos, to the east by Laos and Cambodia, to the south by the Gulf of Thailand and Malaysia, and to the...

, the prime minister of China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and the Prince and Princess of Wales.

Later life

In 1873 he served as High Sheriff of Northumberland
High Sheriff of Northumberland
This is a list of the High Sheriffs of the English county of Northumberland.The High Sheriff is the oldest secular office under the Crown. Formerly the High Sheriff was the principal law enforcement officer in the county but over the centuries most of the responsibilities associated with the post...

. He was elected as the president of the Institution of Civil Engineers
Institution of Civil Engineers
Founded on 2 January 1818, the Institution of Civil Engineers is an independent professional association, based in central London, representing civil engineering. Like its early membership, the majority of its current members are British engineers, but it also has members in more than 150...

 in December 1881 and served in that capacity for the next year. In 1886 he was persuaded to stand as a Unionist Liberal
Liberal Unionist Party
The Liberal Unionist Party was a British political party that was formed in 1886 by a faction that broke away from the Liberal Party. Led by Lord Hartington and Joseph Chamberlain, the party formed a political alliance with the Conservative Party in opposition to Irish Home Rule...

 candidate for Newcastle
Newcastle-upon-Tyne (UK Parliament constituency)
Newcastle-upon-Tyne was a borough constituency in the county of Northumberland of the House of Commons of England to 1706 then of the House of Commons of Great Britain from 1707 to 1800 and of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom from 1801 to 1918...

, but was unsuccessful, coming third in the election. That same year he was presented with the Freedom of the City of Newcastle. In 1887 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Armstrong, of Cragside in the County of Northumberland. His last great project, begun in 1894, was the purchase and restoration of the huge Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh Castle
Bamburgh Castle is an imposing castle located on the coast at Bamburgh in Northumberland, England. It is a Grade I listed building.-History:...

 on the Northumberland coast, which remains in the hands of the Armstrong family. His wife, Margaret, died in September 1893, at their house in Jesmond. Armstrong died at Cragside on 27 December 1900, aged ninety. He was buried in Rothbury churchyard, alongside his wife. The couple had no children, and Armstrong’s heir was his great nephew William Watson-Armstrong. He was succeeded as chairman of the company by his one-time protégée, Andrew Noble.

Such was Armstrong's fame as a gun-maker that he is thought to be a possible model for George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw
George Bernard Shaw was an Irish playwright and a co-founder of the London School of Economics. Although his first profitable writing was music and literary criticism, in which capacity he wrote many highly articulate pieces of journalism, his main talent was for drama, and he wrote more than 60...

's arms magnate in Major Barbara. The title character in Iain Pears
Iain Pears
Iain Pears is an English art historian, novelist and journalist. He was educated at Warwick School, Warwick, Wadham College and Wolfson College, Oxford. Before writing, he worked as a reporter for the BBC, Channel 4 and ZDF and correspondent for Reuters from 1982 to 1990 in Italy, France, UK and...

' historical-mystery novel Stone's Fall
Stone's Fall
-Synopsis:An aging BBC reporter approaching retirement in 1953, Matthew Braddock is on a farewell tour, visiting the old Paris bureau. Chancing upon a familiar name in the obituary notices, he decides to attend the funeral of an acquaintance he has not seen for many years. After the service, he is...

also has similarities to Armstrong.

His attitude to armaments

There is no evidence that Armstrong agonised over his decision to go into armament production. He once said: “If I thought that war would be fomented, or the interests of humanity suffer, by what I have done, I would greatly regret it. I have no such apprehension”. He also said: “It is our province, as engineers to make the forces of matter obedient to the will of man; those who use the means we supply must be responsible for their legitimate application”.

Views on renewable energy

Armstrong advocated the use of renewable energy
Renewable energy
Renewable energy is energy which comes from natural resources such as sunlight, wind, rain, tides, and geothermal heat, which are renewable . About 16% of global final energy consumption comes from renewables, with 10% coming from traditional biomass, which is mainly used for heating, and 3.4% from...

. Stating that coal "was used wastefully and extravagantly in all its applications", he predicted in 1863 that England would cease to produce coal within two centuries. As well as advocating the use of hydroelectricity, he also supported solar power, stating that the solar energy received by 1 acres (4,046.9 m²) in tropical areas would "exert the amazing power of 4000 horses acting for nearly nine hours every day"

The benefactor

Armstrong donated the long wooded gorge of Jesmond Dene
Jesmond Dene
Jesmond Dene is a public park in the east end of Newcastle upon Tyne, England. It occupies the narrow steep-sided valley of a small stream known as the Ouseburn: in North-east England, such valleys are commonly known as denes....

 to the people of the city of Newcastle upon Tyne in 1883, as well as Armstrong Bridge and Armstrong Park nearby.

The University of Newcastle was originally founded by Lord Armstrong in 1871 as the College of Physical Science, later Armstrong College in 1904. He was twice president of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers
Institution of Mechanical Engineers
The Institution of Mechanical Engineers is the British engineering society based in central London, representing mechanical engineering. It is licensed by the Engineering Council UK to assess candidates for inclusion on ECUK's Register of professional Engineers...


Armstrong gave £11,500 towards the building of Newcastle’s Hancock Natural History Museum, which was completed in 1882. This was an enormous sum equivalent to over £555,000 in 2010.

Lord Armstrong's generosity extended beyond his death. In 1901 his heir, William Watson-Armstrong gave £100,000 (£ as of ), for the building of the new Royal Victoria Infirmary
Royal Victoria Infirmary
Originally founded as the Newcastle Infirmary in 1751, the Royal Victoria Infirmary , in Newcastle upon Tyne, England, was opened on 11 July 1906 by Edward VII on of Town Moor given by the Corporation and Freemen. The fully furnished and equipped hospital, containing twenty wards, a nurses' home,...

 in Newcastle upon Tyne. Its original 1753 building at Forth Banks near the river Tyne were inadequate and impossible to expand.

Further reading

  • Henrietta Heald (2010), William Armstrong: Magician of the North. Newcastle: Northumbria Press. ISBN 1904794491.
  • Ken Smith (2005), Emperor of Industry: Lord Armstrong of Cragside. Newcastle: Tyne Bridge Publishing, 48pp. ISBN 1857951271.

External links

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