Monument to Lord Armstrong
Listed Building Grade II
Newcastle upon Tyne, NEWCASTLE UPON TYNE
- Bronze cast life-size statue of Lord Armstrong on an ashlar pedestal flanked by two screen walls with seats. Armstrong is depicted standing, holding a roll of drawings in his left hand, with a pensive look on his face. To his right is a table and at his feet is a recumbent Scotch terrier. Attached to the flanking screen walls are two bronze reliefs depicting aspects of Armstrong's manufacturing career: to the left is a scene of a hydraulic crane lowering a 12-inch gun onto a battleship at Elswick; and to the right is a scene of a ship being towed by two tugs through the Newcastle Swing Bridge.
- Street Address
- Barras Bridge
- Historical Background
- Newcastle Corporation chose the grounds of the Museum of the Natural History Society for the Monument because Armstrong had been particularly associated with the Society during his life-time, joining it in 1846 and eventually becoming its President from 1893 until his death. He was also a key benefactor of the Museum, donating a rare fossil collection in 1859 and contributing £8,000 towards the cost of a new purpose-built home in 1882. In addition, Armstrong entertained the Prince of Wales on behalf of the Museum in 1884 when the latter came to perform the official opening (the Museum became the 'Hancock Museum' in 1891). Thornycroft was invited to submit a model by Armstrong's great-nephew and heir, Watson Armstrong, in 1903. The cost of bronze casting was estimated at £300 in March 1905. The realism and relaxed pose met with approval. The local press spoke of the statue being 'carried out with artistic skill and the boldness of a hand sure of its powers'. Commentators also liked the inclusion of one of Armstrong's favourite Scotch terriers. This detail may have been inspired by the terrier in H.H.Emmerson's 1870s portrait of Armstrong reading a newspaper, in the dining room inglenook at his home at Cragside. Two models of the statue were left in Thornycroft's studio at his death. At the unveiling on 24th July 1906 the Duke of Northumberland spoke of the monument as a 'noble tribute to the genius of Newcastle's greatest benefactor and one of England's most brilliant and honoured masters of industry'. This was followed by a speech tracing Armstrong's career by Sir Andrew Noble, the industrialist's right-hand man for forty years. A commemorative postcard shows that a large crowd was present.
[http://pmsa.courtauld.ac.uk/pmsa/NE/TWNE04.htm - last accessed 22/12/03]
- 'William George (Lord) Armstrong was one of the most important men to have been born and lived in the North East of England. He was a gifted engineer and industrialist, the prime founder of the great ‘Armstrong's Works' on Scotswood Road, Newcastle, where much later I served an engineering apprenticeship.'
[Stafford Linsley's annotation]
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