GET SET FOR A DAZZLING DISPLAY THIS NOVEMBER, WHEN NORTHUMBERLAND LIGHTS RETURNS TO CELEBRATE THE 200TH BIRTHDAY OF LOCAL LEGEND, LORD ARMSTRONG. ACCENT FINDS OUT MORE ABOUT THE ELECTRIC ESTATE.
THE CRAGSIDE estate was created 150 years ago by William Armstrong, an industrialist and inventor who made his house the first in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity.
Now, the Northumberland Lights creative team is creating a stunning interactive illumination at the National Trust property, as Cragside becomes the Electric Estate.
Renewable power sources – inspired by the man himself – will illuminate magical evening walks, while the finale on November 26, Armstrong’s bicentenary, will feature a spectacular show of fire, water and electricity, followed by a torch-lit procession from Cragside to the nearby town of Rothbury.
It was a royal visit to the house in 1884 that inspired the programme of events. The Prince and Princess of Wales (the future King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra) and their five children were amazed by 10,000 glass lamps and a similar number of Chinese lanterns on the pathways and rocky slopes of the grounds. Bonfires on the nearby Simonside hills and a firework display completed the occasion.
Armstrong was an innovator, scientist and engineer, who employed over 25,000 people at his Elswick Works on the Tyne. He and his wife gave Jesmond Dene – a huge swathe of land with a rural feel, despite being in the city – to the people of Newcastle.
Events have been taking place since March to Trip the light fantastic mark Armstrong’s 200th birthday, and there are more to come.
His biographer, Henrietta Heald, will be giving a public lecture on November 25, from 5.30pm-6.30pm, in the Curtis Auditorium at Newcastle University’s Herschel Building.
Published in September, William Armstrong: Magician of the North, is the first full-scale biography of Armstrong and Heald will be doing a book signing after her lecture.
Illuminated walks will be taking place at Cragside at 4.30pm, 5.30pm, 6.30pm, 7.30pm and 8.30pm on the following dates:
Admission costs £11.50 for adults and £8.50 for concessions; the walks take around an hour and a half.
The finale show starts at 6.30pm on November 26; tickets cost £8 for adults and £6.50 for concessions.
More details about Lord Armstrong, Henrietta Heald’s biography and events to mark the bicentenary can be found at www.williamarmstrong.info