A house with a history

Heatherlea House
Heatherlea House

The sale of a property in Rothbury has uncovered a story with links to one of the greatest domestic inventions of the last 150 years.

It also re-connects the village to the invention Heatherlea House shares with its slightly larger neighbour – Cragside House.

The thing both houses have in common is the coming of domestic electric lighting.

Cragside House was the first house in the world to be lit by hydro-electric power and Heatherlea House was once the Rothbury home of Victorian electrical engineer and inventor John Henry Holmes.

Today Heatherlea is for sale through the Northumberland office of George F White with a guide price of £595,000.

The house was built in 1870, by coincidence at about the time that Sir William Armstrong was lighting up Cragside with hydro-electric power.

Holmes himself was then only a teenager, but only a few years later, in his 20s, he installed the first domestic electric lighting in a house in Newcastle. More importantly, in 1883, he invented the light switch that we all use today.

So when he came to Rothbury, it’s more than possible his home benefitted from some pioneering electrical work, as had its larger neighbour, Cragside House.

Jonathan Keenan, of George F White, sees the house as a suitable home for a 21st Century family.

He said: “Heatherlea House is an impressive family home on the outskirts of the village with stunning views over the open countryside.

“Many of the reception rooms still have their original features including fireplaces and generous bay windows overlooking the Simonside Hills.”

Downstairs, there is ample living space with a family room, lounge, dining room, sun room, large family kitchen/breakfast room and a further utility room.

“Currently the house has four bedrooms with the potential for a further two bedrooms on the second floor.There is a separate two-bedroom granny flat.

“Holmes’ light switch employed the snap-off action that allows efficient use and a long-life switch, and we still use the same design today,” said Jonathan.