Sunday, 23 June 2013

The impact of Innovation.

I've just returned from a weekend at Bamburgh on the Northumberland coast. For those who don't know it, this is a beautiful village and the home of Bamburgh Castle. Our family stayed in a cottage which sat alongside workmen's huts from the 19th Century.

You may ask what all of this has to do with innovation. The link lies with William Armstrong, or lord Armstrong, who was a famous Victorian industrialist. He deisigned and built armourments on the Tyne and became incredibly sucessful and wealthy.

He lived at Cragside in Rothbury. This house was the first house in the world powered by hydro electricity.

He also was responsible for tje design of  the hydraulics for London Tower Bridge and employed thousands of men in his factories across the North East.

Whilst fabulously wealthy he was also a philanthropist. He gave away his Newcastle home in Jesmond Dene to the people of the city when he moved to Rothbury

He bought Bamburgh Castle at the end of the 19th century following his wife's death to give him a project. He was in his eighties at the time.

His vision was to convert the castles ruins into a convalescent home for his workers. Unfortunately he didn't live to see it completed. His estate passed to the second Lord Armstorng who was his great newphew. The third lord spent his inheritance and Cragside ultimately had to pass to the state to pay taxes.
The fourth Lord didn't have children and adopted a son and daughter who now own the Castle and estate.

When my family spent a lovely day at the castle it struck me how much of an impact one mans' genius can have on so many people for so many years. 

The people of the north east continue benefit and love the Dene. Many also visit Cragside and its fabulous grounds

The castle is still one of the regions most significant landmarks. The cotage we stayed in for the weekend was built for the stonemasons who worked on the castle.

I'm currently reading his biography and it has struck me the impact one mans innovation can have on so many people for so many years. It therefore strikes me that our country needs to create an environment which provides the opportunities for people to innovate and bring forward new ideas.

Whilst the individual may amass wealth it is likely the wider community will also benefit.

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