Tyne & Wear

Hydro-electricity restored to historic Northumberland home

Lord Armstrong's original Hunting Lodge
Image caption Cragside was built as a two-storey country lodge in 1863
Cragside house
Image caption The house was expanded in 1869 by architect Richard Norman Shaw

A historic house in Northumberland, thought to be the first in the world to be lit by hydro-electricity is, once again, to be powered by water.

Cragside house was built in 1863 by engineer and inventor Lord William Armstrong and was known at the time as the "palace of the modern magician".

Used as his home for 30 years, it used the lakes on the estate to generate electricity through a turbine.

Now, 150 years later, a modern hydro-electric system is to be installed at the house.

Andrew Sawyer, conservation officer at Cragside, said: "Lord Armstrong was an exceptional man with a genius mind and the prospect of bringing his vision for Cragside into the 21st century is a dream come true.

"Hydroelectricity is the world's most widely used form of renewable energy, so we are looking forward to sharing this very special part of its heritage."

'Fantasy landscape'

The Archimedean screw hydro-electric turbine will be installed at the southern end of Tumbleton lake in the spring and will produce enough energy to light the house.

The screw will be installed at an angle that will allow water to pass between the lake and the burn below.

Image caption Lord Armstrong installed a hydro-electric generator at Cragside in 1878

As water passes through the spiral blades it will cause the screw to turn, harnessing the energy of falling water which is then converted into electricity using a generator.

The screw will be visible from the lakeside to allow people to get a better understanding of how the technology works.

The National Trust, which cares for the property, also plans to open a new exhibition in the house telling the story of Lord Armstrong's legacy.

Mr Sawyer said: "I have worked at Cragside for many years now and have always been fascinated by Lord and Lady Armstrong's pioneering dreams for Cragside.

"When they came to Cragside it was nothing but a barren hillside.

"They set about building their dream, creating a magnificent home that was years ahead of its time set within a fantasy landscape.

"A century and a half later, visitors can step into their dream to discover the wonders of Cragside and the people who created it."

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