RSA Newcastle Network Encounter: William Armstrong and Jesmond Dene

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'With his death, Newcastle loses her greatest citizen and one of the worthies of the expiring century,’ said The Times in its obituary of Lord Armstrong of Cragside, who died in December 1900, aged 90. Yet how much do the people of Britain really know about William Armstrong, the man who did so much to put northeast England on the world map?

In 1883 Sir William Armstrong (as he was then) gave Jesmond Dene and the Banqueting Hall to the people of Newcastle, with instructions that the Dene should be preserved forever as a public park, and that the Hall should be used for activities connected with ‘arts, science and education’. Today, both Dene and Hall are in dire need of investment and regeneration.

Henrietta Heald argues that a wonderful opportunity exists to revive the Dene and Hall as a lasting monument to Armstrong’s achievements and as a place of education and health-giving solace for today’s citizens of Tyneside – and for generations to come.

About the speaker

Henrietta Heald is the author of William Armstrong, Magician of the North, a biography of Armstrong that was shortlisted for two literary prizes. Her most recent book is Magnificent Women and Their Revolutionary Machines, about the extraordinary individuals who founded the Women’s Engineering Society a century ago.

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