During our summer break Dawn & I visited Cragside, the historic home of William George Armstrong, 1st Baron Armstrong, who built the house & made it the first property in the world to be lit by hydro-electric power.

Armstrong was a prominent industrialist & inventor who founded the Armstrong Whitworth manufacturing company which was a huge employer in Tyneside. It was also a major armaments developer & supplier, both to the British government and abroad. Amongst its other products it supplied warships to the Royal Navy and the navies of Russia & Japan, as well as the Austro-Hungarian navy.

In fact, Armstrong received his knighthood for surrendering the patent of a vastly superior 18 pounder rifled field gun he’d developed to the British Government. Not that you’d know any of this by reading a single one of the displays about his life up at Cragside! His former home is now owned by the National Trust and they’ve seen fit to whitewash his history and concentrate on his scientific work. The only mention you find in his illustrated timeline is one picture of the field gun. You will find a picture of the swing bridge his company installed on the Tyne. What you won’t find is any of the details. The bridge (costing £250,000) was paid for by Armstrong. Why? Because it allowed warships to proceed up the river to his Elswick works where they were fitted with their armaments!

It’s a great shame that the National Trust have seen fit to censor Armstrong’s history in this way. Why they’ve done so is a mystery. I thought the NTs job was to preserve the past, not to try & edit it.