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General information
Type Country house
Location Rothbury, Morpeth, Northumberland
Country England
Coordinates 55°18′49″N 1°53′08″W / 55.31361°N 1.88556°W / 55.31361; -1.88556Coordinates: 55°18′49″N 1°53′08″W / 55.31361°N 1.88556°W / 55.31361; -1.88556 (grid reference NU0702)
Completed 1863 (1863)
Owner National Trust
Grounds 400 hectares (1.54 sq mi)
Design and construction
Architect Richard Norman Shaw
Designations Grade I listed

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. Built into a rocky hillside above a 4 km² forest garden, it was the country home of armaments manufacturer, Lord Armstrong,[1] and has been in the care of the National Trust since 1977. The property was eventually opened to the public in 1979.

Cragside, named after Cragend Hill above the house, was built in 1863 as a modest two-storey country lodge, but was subsequently extended to designs by Richard Norman Shaw, transforming it into an elaborate mansion in the Free Tudor style. At one point, the building included an astronomical observatory and a scientific laboratory.

The Grade I listed[2] house is surrounded by one of Europe's largest rock gardens, a large number of rhododendrons and a large collection of mostly coniferous trees. One variety of rhododendron is named after Lady Armstrong.[3]

In 2007, Cragside reopened after undergoing "total refurbishment."[4]



In 1868, a hydraulic engine was installed, with water being used to power labour-saving machines such as laundry equipment, a rotisserie and a hydraulic lift. In 1870, water from one of the estate's lakes was used to drive a Siemens dynamo in what was the world's first hydroelectric power station. The resultant electricity was used to power an arc lamp installed in the Gallery in 1878. The arc lamp was replaced in 1880 by Joseph Swan's incandescent lamps in what Swan considered 'the first proper installation' of electric lighting.

The generators, which also provided power for the farm buildings on the estate, were constantly extended and improved to match the increasing electrical demand in the house. The 2006 regeneration project included extensive rewiring.[5]

A new hydro-powered electricity generator was installed in 2014, which can provide 12kW representing around 10% of the property's electricity consumption. The new system is using a 17 metres long Archimedes' screw.[6]

In the media[edit]

The documentary series Abroad Again in Britain by Jonathan Meades focused on Cragside in episode 2 (2005).

Cragside was featured during the 21 August 2011 episode of BBC One's Britain's Hidden Heritage programme,[7] and in the 2013 ITV series Inside the National Trust, presented by Michael Buerk[8]


External links[edit]