Armstrong the innovator

Armstrong the innovator

The first hydraulic crane

The first hydraulic crane

His lordship at Cragside

His lordship at Cragside


Read more about the events planned for Armstrong 200 in the Newcastle Journal.

Programme of Events

Here are details of some of the many events being planned to celebrate the bicentenary of William Armstrong, Baron Armstrong of Cragside, who was born on 26 November 1810. Many of them are free and open to all, but please check in advance to make sure spaces are available.

The Armstrong and Swan Show
This actor-led interactive science show features the ghosts of William Armstrong and Joseph Swan. Using science demonstrations and audience participation, pupils will learn about their inventions and decide who made on the most impact on our lives today. Free. Booking essential.
venue: Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4JA
date: 15–19 March
contact: Rachel Thompson on 0191 277 2174

Engineering for the World: Lord Armstrong at the Lit & Phil
A half-day conference funded by the Economic and Social Research Council as part of National Science Week. Speakers: Dan Jackson, Richard Sharp, Bill Purdue and Henrietta Heald. Free and open to all. See Armstrong 200 launched
venue: Literary and Philosophical Society, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE
date: 20 March, 9.30am–12.30pm
contact: Gill Drinkald on 0191 227 3880 or

The World of the Water Wizard 
An exhibition at Cragside, Armstrong's extraordinary house in Northumberland, explaining how he harnessed the power of water and used it to drive machinery.
venue: Cragside, Morpeth, Northumberland, NE65 7PX
date: March onwards
contact: Justine James on

The Life of Lord Armstrong
 A public lecture by Ken Smith, author of Emperor of Industry, Lord Armstrong of Cragside and several other illustrated books about the history of Tyneside. As Ken Smith explains, although Armstrong's company produced deadly weapons of destruction, his life story, by contrast, is that of a man who did much to help his fellow human beings through numerous charitable donations. In building Cragside and clothing its surroundings with beauty, he left a source of wonder and enjoyment for future generations.

Art and Science at the Service of Romance: Sir William Armstrong, Norman Shaw and the Making of Cragside
A public lecture at Newcastle University by Andrew Saint, general editor of The Survey of London and biographer of Richard Norman Shaw. Cragside is a grand expression of the English romantic dream. It is also a fusion of art, science, architecture and technology, drawn together by two remarkable Victorian talents. This is the story, often strangely obscure, of how the house came into being.

Armstrong City Trails
Three city walking trails around Newcastle, linking sites connected with Armstrong in Elswick, Jesmond and the City Centre. Routes and maps will be available online and in printed form. Details to follow. See Living History Trails
date: May onwards

Spirit of Science
Tyne & Wear Archives, Heaton Manor School and Newcastle Science City have collaborated to produce an innovative online teaching programme for Year 8 students based on Armstrong’s inventions. Details to follow.
date: May onwards

Hero or Profiteer? An Armstrong Workshop
Armstrong stood among the giants of the industrial revolution, both as an ingenious inventor and as a powerful entrepreneur. He created jobs for more than 25,000 Tynesiders and gave generously to workers' education, hospitals and museums, as well as founding what became Newcastle University. Yet his wealth derived largely from the armaments industry and he was the leading opponent of the engineers' campaign for a shorter working week. Was he a hero or a profiteer? Come and put your views at a workshop hosted by Neil Tonge, chair of Armstrong 200.
venue: City Library, 33 New Bridge Street West, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 8AX
date: 29 May, 2–4pm
contact: Kath Cassidy on 0191 277 4155 or

Building Bridges
An exhibition at Discovery Museum celebrating the bridges of the Tyne through photography, art and storytelling, from the first known bridge across the Tyne, built by the Roman emperor Hadrian around AD122, to Bambuco's temporary bamboo bridge, built in 2008. The Swing Bridge, built by William Armstrong in the 1870s, is among the main features of the exhibition.
venue: Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4JA
date: 12 June 2010 to 16 January 2011

City Guides Walk: Armstrong’s River Tyne
A riverside walk from the Swing Bridge to the site of Armstrong's famous Elswick Works.
£3 adult, £2 Concessions. Free with Newcastle City Walks season ticket and for accompanied children under 16.
venue: meet at Newcastle Guildhall, finish at Business Park
date: Sunday, 27 June, 2.30pm
contact: Anne Smith on 0191 277 8000 or

City Guides Walk: Armstrong’s Garden
An early industrial area with water mills that became Lord Armstrong’s garden. Here are the remains of a banqueting hall, Newcastle’s oldest ecclesiastical building and a burn.
£3 adult, £2 Concessions. Free with Newcastle City Walks season ticket and for accompanied children under 16.
venue: meet at Millfield House, Pets’ Corner, Jesmond Dene, finish at Matthew Bank
date: Sunday, 11 July, 2.30pm
contact: Anne Smith on 0191 277 8000 or

William Armstrong – A Spark of Inspiration
Discovery Museum celebrates the achievements and the legacy of William Armstrong with a major bicentenary exhibition exploring the man behind the Elswick Works: as a scientist, an industrialist and an innovator.
venue: Discovery Museum, Blandford Square, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 4JA
date: 11 July 2010 to 16 January 2011

Great North-east Heroes
A double bicentennial celebration of Admiral Lord Collingwood and Baron Armstrong of Cragside, two great heroes of North-east England. In the spectacular setting of the King's Hall at Bamburgh Castle, Dr Tony Barrow presents 'Collingwood's Northumbrians' and Ken Wilson talks about the first Lord Armstrong, who restored the castle in the 1890s.
All tickets £5; refreshments.
venue: Bamburgh Castle, Bamburgh, Northumberland NE69 7DF
date: Thursday, 10 September, 7.30pm
contact: Bamburgh Castle on 01668 214208 for tickets

Publication of William Armstrong: Magician of the North
The first major biography of William, Baron Armstrong of Cragside, by Henrietta Heald, will be published by Northumbria University Press. See Magician of the North
date: September
contact: Linda MacFadyen on 0191 280 1080 or

City Guides Walk: Armstrong’s Newcastle
He was one of Britain’s greatest innovators and industrialists, and made a huge impact on Tyneside. Come and find out why and visit the places that were important to him.
£3 adult, £2 Concessions. Free with Newcastle City Walks season ticket and for accompanied children under 16.
venue: meet at Great North Museum, finish at St Nicholas’s Cathedral
date: Sunday, 26 September, 2.30pm
contact: Anne Smith on 0191 277 8000 or

Armstrong Public Lecture
As part of Newcastle University’s ‘Insights’ series, the author Henrietta Heald will give a public lecture on Armstrong followed by a book signing.
venue: Curtis Auditorium, Herschel Building, Newcastle University, NE1 7RU
date: 25 November, 5.30–6.30pm
contact: Umbereen Rafiq at

Heritage Plaque Unveiling
As part of the heritage plaque scheme, Newcastle City Council’s Historic Environment and Urban Design section will raise and unveil a heritage plaque in commemoration of Lord Armstrong. Ceremony to be performed by the Lord Mayor of Newcastle.
venue: to be decided
date: 26 November, 2.30–3.30pm
contact: Ben Smith on 0191 277 7194 or  

Details to follow.

The Armstrong Works of BAE Systems
Site tours of the works on Friday afternoons by arrangement.
venue: Armstrong Works, Scotswood Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE99 1BX
date: April onwards
contact: Craig Brown at