Glynis Cowan is head of Year 8 at Heworth Grange Comprehensive School, Gateshead We visited Cragside House with a group of 20 Year 11 GCSE students. In general studies they are investigating the history and geography of the region.
The Cragside visit was the first in a programme called "Famous North-Easterners" arranged through Open Industry. One aim was for students to see how things taken for granted in today's world had their beginnings in their own area. They were impressed that this local landowner had installed electric lights in his home before the Prince of Wales.
William Armstrong and his inventions of high-pressure hydraulic machinery and the use of hydroelectricity to light his home, made history, science and technology more exciting to students looking for curriculum relevance.
The guide gave excellent explanations of the technological wonders in the house and grounds, and totally engaged the students. The hydraulic rotating spit in the kitchen, with its elaborate pipework, and the enormous 10-ton inglenook fireplace were particular attractions.