Cragside was the country home of the inventor and industrialist William Armstrong, who developed hydraulic equipment, shipbuilding and armaments. He used many inventions on his own property. At Cragside he built five reservoirs and installed hydraulic equipment in the kitchens, a sawmill and a laundry. In 1878 he installed a Siemens dynamo to create the world’s first hydroelectric scheme. It lighted his home by electricity, first with an arc lamp and then from 1880 with Joseph Swann’s incandescent lamps. Armstrong also invented a dishwasher, a vacuum cleaner and a washing machine.
The National Trust bought Cragside in 1971. It was designed by Richard Norman Shaw starting in 1869 and is one of the finest Victorian houses in Britain. Visitors see original light fittings and a series of grand and beautiful rooms, many of them top-lit to allow Sir William and Lady Armstrong to hang their large art collection. In the grounds, visitors see the reservoirs, the generator house, the stables, a delicate iron bridge and the estate where the Armstrongs planted 7 million trees.