Catalogue description Papers of the Lord Armstrong and Family of Cragside, Rothbury

This record is held by Tyne and Wear Archives

Details of DF.A
Reference: DF.A
Title: Papers of the Lord Armstrong and Family of Cragside, Rothbury

DF.A/1/1-42 Letters to the First Lord Armstrong, 1884-1900


Letters to the First Lord Armstrong from individuals who wrote no more than once arranged by subject, 1870-1900


DF.A/2/1-5 Art


DF.A/3/1-25 Business


DF.A/4/1-35 Charity


DF.A/5/1-37 "Electrical movement in air and water" - receipts and thankyou letters for complimentary copies of Lord Armstrongs work and its later supplement.


DF.A/6/1-5 Honours


DF.A/7/1-24 Personal and Family


DF.A/8/1-3 Royal visit to Elswick and Cragside


DF.A/9 Science


DF.A/10/1-2 Copy of letters and receipts, 1843-1899


DF.A/11/1-33 Letters from Lord Armstrong to his wife Margaret, 1843-1892


DF.A/12/1-18 Letters to Lady Margaret Armstrong 1859-1884


DF.A/13/1-16 Printed material relating to the First Lord Armstrong, 1884-1895


DF.A/14/1-11 Letters to Lord and Lady Armstrong from the Watson Family, 1832-1899


DF.A/15/1-24 Letters to William A.Watson Armstrong 1894-1912


Letters to William A.Watson Armstrong from individuals who wrote no more than once arranged by subject, 1888-1912


DF.A/16/1-3 Art


DF.A/17/1-10 Business


DF.A/18 Ceremonies


DF.A/19/1-13 Charity


DF.A/20/1-53 Family and Personal


DF.A/21/1-2 Honours


DF.A/22/1-2 Legal Matters


DF.A/23/1-2 Local Organisations


DF.A/24/1-2 Letters of congratulations to the Watson-Armstrongs in the birth of their children 1892 and 1894


DF.A/25 Receipts written to william A.Watson Armstrong 1887-1904


DF.A/26 Letters to william A.Watson Armstrong which are not signed or dated c1900


DF.A/27/1-2 Letters to Mrs Watson Armstrong c1900


DF.A/28 Copy letters - W.A.Watson Armstrong, 1903


DF.A/29/1-6 Papers relating to the Watson Family 1819-c1870


DF.A/30/1-5 Printed material relating to W.A.Watson Armstrong, 1885-1900


DF.A/31/1-7 Letters to and from various individuals related to the Armstrong or Watson Families 1849-c1890


DF.A/32 Legal papers, 1900


DF.A/33/1-2 Draft speeches, c1840-1900


DF.A/34/1-4 Plans and specifications, c1887-1880


DF.A/35 Photographs, c1885


DF.A/36/1-4 Miscellaneous, 1840-1913

Date: 1819-1913

These records when received were in no particular order. They have been grouped by recipient initially and then within that grouping by sender if that sender wrote more than one letter; or in artificially constructed subject groups if the letter was the only one received from a particular individual.

Related material:

For other records relating to W.G.Armstrong's business interests see accessions:


31 Rendel Papers


130 Records of Armstrong Whitworth including W.G.Armstrong and Company c1847-1949.


450 Book of Ships of Sir W.G.Armstrong, Whitworth and Company, Elswick 1898-1908.


1975 W.G.Armstrongs Elswick Works, photographs and plans, 1837-1970


1027 Records of Vickers Armstrongs Ltd, Elswick, c1847-c1950

Held by: Tyne and Wear Archives, not available at The National Archives
Language: English

Armstrong family of Cragside, Northumberland

Armstrong family, Barons Armstrong

Physical description: 36 SERIES
Immediate source of acquisition:

Accession 2485

  • Arts
  • Shipbuilding
Administrative / biographical background:

William George Armstrong was born in 1810 the son of William Armstrong (1778-1857). He was educated at the Grammar School, Bishop Auckland and then went on to study law in London.


He is best known as the inventor of both the hydraulic engine and the rifled bore breechloading gun. Armstrong's hydraulic crane was patented in 1846 and his gun accepted by General Peel's Committee on rifled cannon in 1858.


Armstrongs first company, The Newcastle Craneage company was established in 1847 at Elswick to manufacture cranes. In 1859 The Elswick Ordnance Company was created to manufacture Armstrongs gun for the government, and in the same year Armstrong was appointed engineer of rifled ordnance at Woolwich and received his knighthood. The Engine Company and the Ordnance Company later united to form Sir W.G.Armstrong and Company.


There was a hiatus in the governments use of breech loading guns between 1863 and 1880. In the latter year when the government returned to its previous policy, Armstrong established a yard at Elswick for the construction of warships in conjunction with the shipyard of C.M.Mitchell and Company at Low Walker. In 1882 this firm of Sir W.G.Armstrong Mitchell and company became a public company. In 1897 the company was renamed Sir W.G.Armstrong Whitworth and Company following the amalgamation with Sir Joseph Whitworth and company of Manchester, long time competitor with Armstrong in the field of gun manufacture.


The first Lord Armstrong was also something of a scientist. He conducted electrical experiments at his residence at Cragside, which was also one of the first domestic residences in the country to be illuminated by electricity via Mr Swan's recent invention. There is some correspondence from Swan in this collection relating to this. Armstrong also published a work Electrical Movement in Air and Water with its supplement 1897-1899.


Lord Armstrong was elevated to the peerage in 1887.


Although married to Margaret Ramshaw, Lord Armstrong had no heirs. Consequently he bequeathed his estate to his great nephew William A.Watson, son of John William Watson of Adderstone Hall, Belford, Northumberland.


W.A.Watson was born in 1863 and seems to have been in touch with his Great Aunt and Uncle from an early age along with his sister Susan, known as 'Totie'. He assumed the additional surname and arms of the Armstrong Family by royal licence in 1889. After the first Lord Armstrong's death in December 1900, he was eventually elevated to the peerage as Baron Armstrong of Bamburgh and Cragside (Bamburgh Castle having been acquired by lord Armstrong in 1903).


Watson-Armstrong became a director of Armstrong-Whitworth's Elswick works after the first Lord's death, and was also on the Management Board of The North Eastern Railway Company. He married three times; to Winifred A.Adye in 1889 (d.1914); to Beatrice Elizabeth Cowx in 1916 (d.1934) and to Kathleen England in 1935. Watson-Armstrong died in 1941 and was succeeded to the title by his eldest son William John Montague Watson-Armstrong.

Link to NRA Record:

Have you found an error with this catalogue description?

Help with your research