Robson Green lights up Cragside with hydro power

Robson Green at Cragside with  the 17 metre Archimedes screw.
Robson Green at Cragside with the 17 metre Archimedes screw.

A Victorian house is being lit by hydroelectricty again after Geordie actor Robson Green flicked the switch on an Achimedean screw.

Cragside House was the first in the world to use hydroelectricity in 1878, when Lord Armstrong used water from the estate’s lakes to generate electricity through a turbine.

Now, 137 years later, a 17-metre-long, galvanised turbine weighing several tonnes will produce enough energy to power the light bulbs in the house.

Robson, who was also filming as part of the second series of ITV’s Tales From Northumberland, turned on the screw on Tuesday.

He told children in the watching crowd: “This is the best science lesson you are going to have.”

The screw will produce around 12kw of electricity, which over a year equates to 10 per cent of the house’s supply.

It is the equivalent to lighting all the lights in the house for a year, but not enough to run all its other electrical items.

Andrew Sawyer, property curator at Cragside, said: “It is a very visual demonstration of the way hydro power works, an almost sculptural sight in the landscape.

“Lord Armstrong was an exceptional man with an ingenious mind and the prospect of bringing his vision for Cragside into the 21st century is a dream come true. Hydroelectricity is the world’s most widely used form of renewable energy, so we are looking forward to sharing this very special part of its heritage.”

Water from Tumbleton lake, the lowest of the five lakes on the Cragside estate, will feed through the turbine and into the burn below.

As water passes through the spiral blades, it causes the screw to turn, harnessing the energy of the falling water. The energy is then converted into electricity using a generator.

Sarah Pemberton, head of conservation at the National Trust said: “The hydro-turbine is a great example of the innovative methods the National Trust is employing in order to achieve the highest possible standards of sustainability.”

Visitors will be able to see the technology in action from the lakeside.