Paul Martin visits Cragside House in Northumberland, home to one of Victorian Britain's least remembered inventors, Lord William Armstrong.
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This country is famous for its heritage, from its buildings to its many extraordinary objects,
and its astonishing engineering. Much of it we already know and love,
but this country is a treasure trove of hidden heritage,
and it's all waiting to be discovered.
We've been scouring the length and the breadth of the nation
for secret treasures and hidden places
that unlock our rich and ever-surprising history.
And today we travel to Northumberland
to reveal the surprising and very grand setting
that tells the story of the birth of household electricity.
This room was the very first in the world to be lit
by Joseph Swan's newly invented filament light bulb.
Charlie Luxton spends the night in one of Victorian Britain's most notorious prisons.
It's nearly midnight, and I'm in a cold cell.
Clare Balding travels to Yorkshire in search of a relic
that was lost five centuries ago.
Local legend has it that at least one piece of Jervaulx treasure
escaped the grasping hands of Henry VIII.
And guest reporter Charlie Boorman sets sail from Portsmouth
to find a unique piece of British naval history
that's been at the bottom of the ocean for a hundred years.
Look! You can see the tower, the top and everything.
Just below us, literally.
This is a journey to the very heart of Britain's hidden heritage.
Situated right in the middle of a 1,000-acre forest
that is itself surrounded by the wild moors
of one of Britain's remotest regions,
I think we can confidently say today's host location
is one of Britain's most hidden-heritage secrets,
and one of the most stunning. Welcome to the Cragside Estate!
If you drive an hour north of Newcastle,
heading towards the wild and windy Northumberland moors,
you get some idea of the remoteness of Cragside House.
It began life almost 150 years ago
as a simple two-storey country residence,
the modest retreat of the now almost-forgotten industrialist,
scientist and inventor, Sir William Armstrong.
He had often visited this area as a child,
and remembered it as a place of exceptional beauty.
In 1863, he bought some land on this impossibly steep-sided valley,
had it cleared, and built himself the house of his dreams,
perched on a ledge of rock overlooking the river running below.
There's a good reason why his new home was called Cragside.
Just look where it's perched. What a location!
Absolutely stunning. Over the years, William Armstrong had the house and the estate extended.
He planted seven million trees, constructed five artificial lakes,
and had 31 miles of carriage drive built.
It was also the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity.
In its heyday, this place was known
as "the palace of the modern magician".
Built from local yellow sandstone with black-and-white Cheshire-style half timbering,
this romantic, castle-like building would have been an extraordinary sight in Victorian England.
In fact, to this very day, it makes quite an impression.
The first thing that really hits you about Cragside
is the magnitude of the place. It is absolutely vast.
It's obviously been built by a man who didn't worry about building costs or building regulations,
or the impractical complications of constructing a house
on the side of a cliff in the middle of nowhere.
It is a magnificent piece of landscaping,
a superb piece of engineering, and it's all been made possible
by the vision of one brilliant man.
William Armstrong was an extremely influential figure
of the Victorian industrial age.
But unlike some of the more famous engineers and businessmen
of the time, like Brunel and Thomas Telford,
Armstrong's name isn't as widely known today.
But, as we will find out,
his inventions have profoundly influenced the way we lead our lives
because many of the mod cons we now take for granted in our homes
began their lives right here at Cragside.
So, who exactly was William Armstrong?
He was a son of a coal merchant, born in 1810 in Newcastle,
-His main passion was engineering,
and he achieved so much from hydraulics,
shipbuilding, to the time of his death in 1900,
there was over 30,000 workers at the Elswick works alone.
During the 1870s, when Armstrong's business empire was at its peak,
his companies were building hydraulic cranes for dockyards,
warships, and armaments for governments around the world,
and Cragside played its part in Armstrong's success,
used to entertain potential clients.
He filled the house with cutting-edge technology,
hoping to impress his guests and seal the deals.
They had heating, hot and cold running water.
They had all the mod cons, when you look around this house.
The house is full of them. They had a lift,
mainly put in for the benefit of the staff,
to take coal up to the various floors,
a telephone system on the estate, fire-alarm system.
The Owl Suite, the royal suite, had hot and cold running water.
-This is incredible. And this is so ahead of its time.
-It really is.
But, technological innovations aside,
Cragside was incredibly welcoming and homely,
revealing that, in spite of his immense wealth,
Armstrong never forgot his lowly beginning.
Indeed, those who knew him remarked on his friendliness,
good nature, and his devotion to science.
He had the house designed in the Arts and Crafts style,
which drew inspiration from the work of the craftsmen and artisans
of the Middle Ages.
In 1977, the house was passed to the Treasury
in part settlement of death duties from the Armstrong family.
It was then transferred to the National Trust,
who, in 1979, opened Cragside up to the public,
and they now look after the day-to-day running of the place.
Let's face it, Cragside is in a remote location.
But it's open to the public, so it's got to be run
in a manner befitting such a grand location.
Doors open at 1:00 pm every single day,
but an awful lot of work goes on behind the scenes,
prepping, and that's a big task on such a large estate.
There's only full-time staff in the house.
There's five gardeners, a forester, and a team of dedicated, enthusiastic volunteers.
Without them, this place wouldn't be open to the public,
and they're having a staff meeting right now,
so let's be nosy and have an earwig.
Just to let you know there's three buses in today.
One of them is an NT Association, so we'll probably be quite busy.
Hi, everyone. Hello. Sorry. I'm just being a bit nosy.
I know you're going to open the house any minute now.
Have you learnt an awful lot about William Armstrong
-and what he set out to do?
I think he was exceptional with the way his servants benefited
-from his inventions.
-For sure. Yeah.
You can see the innovations that were to the benefit of all the servants.
He never gets the appreciation he should get.
Championing the cause! Good on you. I won't keep you,
cos I know you've got work to do. You're going to have lunch
before it's one o'clock. You haven't got long!
'While the volunteers work out who's doing what,
'I have an opportunity to have a good look around the house myself.
'Every room seems to be chock-full of surprises.'
But not all of them feature on the guided tour,
like one rather unique collection that particularly grabbed my attention.
Do you know what? This is the most extensive collection of moulds
I have come across in my entire life.
We've got jelly moulds, biscuit moulds, butter moulds,
cake moulds. You name it, Lord Armstrong has got it right here.
'Every day, Cragside comes to life in readiness for the visitors.
'As well as the usual work you'd expect in keeping a historic house spick and span,
'I stumbled across one volunteer with a very unusual job,
'and it's yet another of Armstrong's collections
'that is the subject of this particular bit of conservation.'
-Lovely shell collection!
Did Lord Armstrong collect this himself?
Not physically, no.
He was very keen on natural history, collected all sorts of specimens,
but the shell collection was put together for him
-by the Hancock brothers, the...
-Natural History Museum.
Natural History Museum in Newcastle, yes. Yes.
So, how do you go about cleaning your shells?
Well, we brush them first to get the loose dust off them,
and then we swab-clean them.
You've got your work cut out. There's a lot of shells here.
-How many in the collection?
-Just over 5,000.
Job for life, then. When was the last time you did this?
They probably haven't been swab-cleaned for...
well, getting on for a hundred years or so.
'Walking around the house, you really do appreciate the extent
'to which Cragside has been preserved.
'It feels almost like Armstrong might suddenly walk around the corner.
'For me, it's the hallways and the staircases in particular
'that give a sense of the hustle and bustle of life here
'over a century ago, and allow me the opportunity
'to go behind the scenes.'
In its heyday, there were around a hundred servants here,
and I'm climbing the ladies' quarter now, where they lived.
The higher up you got, the lower down the pecking order you were,
so on the top floor were the scullery maids,
and over the other side of the building were the men. They kept them apart.
Coming up the last flight of stairs now,
and you can see how high we are out there.
We're above the rooftops.
'It's astonishing to think it was the servants of Cragside
'that were treated to some of the best views of the estate.'
Wow, what a view!
Isn't that incredible?
The sound of water.
Water was the driving force behind the triumph of Cragside,
and later I'm going to learn how water played a powerful part
in Armstrong's inventions.
The story of Cragside, Armstrong, and the all staff that worked here
are one of many success stories throughout Britain
during the 19th century. But there's another side to Victorian history
that's a little bit murkier. Charlie Luxton went to Lincolnshire
to uncover some rather dark and disturbing parts
of our hidden heritage.
Deep in the heart of this ancient town
lies an important part of our heritage
that history has tried to forget.
Enclosed behind the tall, imposing walls
of Lincoln's Norman castle stands a building
that was shut down over a hundred years ago,
and it's been closed to the public ever since.
It's a sinister remnant of a discredited, barbaric system,
but an important reminder of how the Victorians treated criminals.
I've come to Lincoln Castle prison,
which is about to have its first inmate for 140 years -
'I've been given special permission to spend the night here,
'to try and get some sense of what life must have been like
'for the inmates it was designed to hold.'
The Victorians built this jail, an extension of an earlier one,
They were enthusiastic jailers.
This prison was one of over 90 built or extended
between the 1840s and the 1870s.
And the reason for so many prisons was simple.
Victorian Britain had a lot of prisoners.
'Four times as many, in fact, at the end of the 19th century
'than at the start of it. But much of this
'was down to the Victorians' thirst for locking people up.'
But Lincoln Castle was more than just another jail.
It heralded a whole new approach to the prison system.
This is so special because it was specifically built
for a system that at the time they thought was going to reform
all prisons, but what actually turned out, after a couple of years,
to be quite evil, called the separate system
-or the Pentonville system.
-So, how did that work?
It started off in America with Quakers, Benjamin Rush.
They decided that punishment wasn't working,
so let's try something different. Let's try reforming.
And the way you can reform is by religion,
silence and solitude.
And the way they would enforce the fact
that you would not meet or see anybody else was,
you had a hood,
a hood with slits for eyes and a little peak,
which you would put onto your head before you left your cell.
So, if you can imagine two years of virtually not talking to anybody...
It sent a lot of people mad.
'This whole system was based on control and fear.
'Wearing this rough cloth hood
'is uncomfortable, disorientating and very scary.
'And as one of the few times you got to take it off
'was to watch a prison chaplain in full-on fire-and-brimstone mode,
'it's no wonder prisoners went mad.
'I want my time here to give me as good an insight
'into the lives of the prisoners as possible,
'so I need to know more about who these men actually were.'
Well, there's lots of people that are held here.
They range from people convicted of stealing a scarf, maybe,
and they would generally be held here for three months at a time.
And then we have the very serious cases
which can result in execution.
The separate system was undoubtedly cruel,
but by implementing it, the Victorians were trying,
however badly, to improve the previous, even worse prison system.
And it's the story of one Anderson Irvine,
a young convict that was held here in the 1700s,
that really highlights the poor conditions
that existed prior to the separate system.
He was arrested for stealing a silver cup,
and then he was brought to Lincoln for his trial.
After his conviction, he was sentenced to transportation
to the colonies, so he was sent out to Australia,
where he proved himself an able surgeon,
so whilst we don't have records of him in books,
we do actually have something slightly better,
which is his name carved into one of the stones
in the cell that he was held.
Irvine's story is extraordinary.
'Transported to the other side of the world for stealing a cup
'seems incredibly harsh.
'But worse is where he appears to have been kept
'while an inmate here, because, deep beneath the Victorian building
'lies another hidden prison.'
So, Bob, how many people come down here to the basement?
Not many. The only people who come down
are when it needs maintenance, or when we need to look at things
if anything's happened.
-In there, is it?
Pretty... Pretty narrow, isn't it?
-So, this would have been a transportation cell?
-You're joking. I mean, look!
You couldn't keep people in... There's no light!
There's no windows. This is ridicu-...
This would have been packed full of people about to go to Australia,
-on their way to transportation?
-So our Dr Irvine,
-he'd be down here somewhere, would he?
-He will be, yes.
Where is he? Do you know where his name is?
-Yes, if you'd like to follow me.
-What, through there?
-That's really old stone, isn't it?
As we come up to this entrance here...
-Well, I'm not getting through there.
-Well, I can't!
I'm bigger than you! But as we crouch down,
-you can actually see...
-There it is!
-Irvine. Look at that. So, '84.
-It is, yes.
-So, that's 1784.
You can see why he ended up being a surgeon.
He's got a very good hand. That is absolutely...
It's almost incredible that, in this dehumanising system,
-he just didn't want to get forgotten, did he?
-No, he didn't.
'Being held here must have been a living hell.
'The sounds, the smells, the fear must have been overwhelming.
'I've learnt a lot today, but now it's time for one final insight.
'It's time for the first inmate for over a hundred years
'to check in for the night.'
I'm just looking through the governor's journal here
from 1852, and there's years of it. And what it really makes you realise
is the crushing mundanity of life here,
a system designed to break the spirit.
And it's funny, because when we were talking about coming
and spending a night here, it seemed like a really good idea
on the phone, but now I'm sat here... It's nearly midnight,
and I'm in a cold cell that is really not very comfortable,
and I know that, when I wake up in the morning, lying here,
I'm going to look up at that roof,
and the first thing I'm going to see
is going to be the first thing that thousands of inmates saw
The separate system was a brief but bizarre moment
in Victorian Britain. It lasted for less than two years.
Lincoln Castle prison itself was closed in 1887.
Ironically, it became a victim of the Victorians' obsession
with locking people up. It quite simply ran out of space.
And when a newer and larger prison was built nearby,
this place became an archive store for the county council.
This is dawn, and I can't say that I've had a hugely comfortable night,
but I think it's been important that I came and spent some time here
and spent the night, because so often we have a tendency
to celebrate the great and glorious episodes in our history,
and brush under the carpet the darker and more sinister sides,
and that is certainly what Lincoln Castle is.
And that's exactly what makes it such an important part
of our hidden heritage.
Coming up on Britain's Hidden Heritage,
Clare Balding goes on a 500-year-old treasure hunt.
It's extraordinary. This is what a medieval abbey would have looked like inside.
Charlie Boorman takes to the seas
in search of the country's oldest submarine.
-"Yeah, you've reached the sub."
And I visit the first room in the world
to be lit with electric light.
But first, back in Northumberland, my tour of Cragside
has taken me outside onto the 1,700-acre estate.
Surrounding the house is what's thought to be
the biggest rock garden in Europe. It's certainly very striking.
When the National Trust took this over,
all this was completely overgrown with shrubs and rhododendrons,
and I guess maintenance is an ongoing thing
on a rockery this size.
-You cutting back?
-Oh, yes. Always cutting back.
-There's a lot of it, isn't there?
-It's a big rockery.
-About four acres.
Are you happy with how the planting's gone on?
Oh, yes, definitely. What you've got to realise is,
when it was planted, they wouldn't have seen it mature,
so it was a long-term vision, which is very impressive.
Lady Armstrong was an enthusiastic gardener.
She planted rhododendrons and azaleas,
which thrived here, balanced by other colourful shrubs
like Berberis and Sorbus, and heaths and heathers
which give the whole place a wild and natural feel.
Around the house, huge boulders were rolled into position
by men using only levers and blocks and tackle.
And on the wider estate, the planting of seven million trees
transformed this once-bare hillside
into the breathtaking landscape you see today.
It leaves a legacy that suggests that Victorian industrialists
were not just all about building smoky factories in city centres.
In Armstrong's case, the green environment
was something to be respected, studied and even harnessed.
And in the 1860s, on the moors high above the house,
he began radically altering the landscape
with a revolutionary new project in mind.
Lord Armstrong came to this valley as a young boy
because he was a keen angler. He wanted to fish the water.
And water has become the thing that's linked this house
with many of his experiments that he's carried out within it,
and it's highly likely that he chose this area to build his house
not because of its outstanding natural beauty
but because of its potential for hydroelectric power.
Armstrong was fascinated by the potential
for harnessing the power of water,
and on the top of the crag way above the house,
Armstrong diverted two rivers
and created a series of five stunning lakes.
'It's only out in the middle of one of these lakes
'that the monumental scale of Armstrong's vision
'becomes apparent. He was way ahead of his time,
'realising the potential water provided
'for renewable energy.'
This wasn't here before. He built all of this high above his house,
which created a vast head of water with so much pressure
it could be collected through a series of pipes
that would drive all of his experiments.
At a time when the world's manufacturing industries
were eating up coal and gas, Armstrong saw fossil fuels
as expensive and wasteful, even predicting that coal would run out
within 200 years.
'But how, in 1878, did he turn water into electricity?
'Cragside's resident engineer Robin Wright
'knows all about Armstrong's technical wonders
'and his visionary genius.'
-This is great, isn't it? The moors.
-It's a lovely spot, yes, yes, yes.
Look at the size of this! This is a clay pipe, now, isn't it?
-Yeah. This was, er...
-I mean, I'm starting to understand
the scale of what went on here. Look at the dimensions of that!
And this just collects water from the moor?
Yeah. Right out on the moor he built a dam.
The water supply runs into a canal for about a quarter of a mile,
and then into this two-foot-diameter clay pipe,
which eventually runs down through onto the estate.
Imagine laying just over half a mile of this pipe,
with a two-foot diameter, across terrain like this.
'By the time the water reached the estate below,
'it had dropped 140 feet, building up enough pressure
'to turn the high-tech waterwheel or turbine.'
'Robin is going to demonstrate how, for the first time ever,
'Armstrong turned water pressure into electricity.'
Well, I've got the hosepipe. You've got the dynamo in your pocket.
Let's have a good look at that. Is that a light bulb in there?
Yes. We've got a small LED light bulb
with a little gearbox inside, which is driving this little dynamo,
which is coils of wire going round a magnet...
-OK. Copper wire.
-Copper wire, yeah.
-Right. OK. So, there's a little nut on there,
-so you can put that in there.
-Yeah. We'll see if this works,
and see what happens. We're trying not to get too wet.
Right. Let's try it, shall we?
Here's water from the reservoir. Here we go.
-Yes, we've got a bit of light there.
-Look at that!
'Armstrong's real genius was to combine the ancient technology
'of the waterwheel with the very recent inventions
'of his friends and fellow inventors -
'Werner Siemens' electro-dynamo machine,
'first demonstrated just ten years before,
'and the incandescent light bulbs of fellow Northeasterner
Now, when you think about hydroelectric power stations,
you're probably imagining huge great big dams somewhere,
or massive concrete buildings,
not some small, unassuming little building
in the middle of the woods here at Cragside.
Well, look - this is it. This little cottage
is the powerhouse!
And this pipe is journey's end for the water,
now running at 150 pounds per square inch.
It runs under the floor and then hits the turbine.
The wheel is covered, It's cased in metal to stop the water splashing everywhere,
but it drives this shaft. You've got your two huge magnets,
your coil of copper, that is spinning around
at 1,300 revs per minute.
Here are the terminals that you can draw the power supply from,
the positive and the negative.
So, this is really what feeds the house up there -
the world's first hydroelectric dynamo for domestic use.
ROARING OF MACHINERY
Armstrong's hydroelectric system ran for over 60 years,
until Cragside was finally connected to the National Grid in 1945.
'And later I'll learn more about the clever gadgets and gizmos
'Armstrong was so keen to power.'
Our reporters have been touring the British Isles
in search of the overlooked, and in her quest for hidden heritage,
Clare Balding has been to one of the most beautiful parts
of the country to find a long-forgotten ruin
that's been neglected for centuries.
Now, everyone knows all about the Yorkshire Dales -
big, vast, beautiful landscape, great for walking,
for cycling, for riding. But the thing about Yorkshire
is the deeper you dig, the more you find,
and for history buffs, this place is a treasure trove.
There were more battles fought in Yorkshire
than any other county in the country.
And if you go off the beaten path, and I mean really off it,
you will find a place like this,
not just one of Yorkshire's but one of Britain's hidden gems.
Buried in the depths of Uredale,
the ruins of Jervaulx Abbey tell the story
of a vibrant monastic community,
and of its eventual destruction
by one of Britain's most infamous kings.
And yet this important historical site
is very much off the tourist trail.
The nearby abbeys of Byland and Rievaulx
are much better known than Jervaulx,
and this one feels a bit like going into somebody's private garden.
And it is privately owned. It's open to the public all year round,
but you'll never find a massive crowd here,
because it's so hard to find. And I haven't been here before.
But there it is!
That is magical.
The monastery at Jervaulx was founded in 1156.
'During the following 400 years, not only did the abbey develop
'into an important centre of religious devotion,
'but the Cistercian monks also established
'a thriving trading community, farming the land,
'breeding horses, and producing Wensleydale cheese.'
At its peak, the abbey estate owned half of Uredale,
and comprised a church, cloisters, the monks' accommodation
and numerous outbuildings.
It had become one of the richest and most important religious houses
in the land, with an annual income of £500 a year -
that's over £160,000 in today's money.
So, Glyn, what would life have been like here in the 12th century?
Well, there are 60 or 70 monks,
and they're supported by perhaps three times as many lay brothers.
It's a self-supporting organisation. It has a huge estate.
It feeds itself. It's self-sufficient.
Everything they eat, drink and wear is made here.
But in 1534, the fortunes of the abbey changed dramatically.
Henry VIII passed the Act of Supremacy,
making himself head of the Church of England,
and ultimately bringing about the dissolution
of many religious houses, including Jervaulx.
Within four years, the abbey had been demolished.
Its land became the property of the Crown,
and much of its treasure seized, sold or smashed.
Before its destruction, Jervaulx and its ecclesiastical treasures
were valued at the equivalent of nearly £1.5 million
in today's money.
Afterwards, all that remained were the building's crumbling walls
and broken pillars.
'And here it's stood for nearly 500 years,
'with the Yorkshire weather and Mother Nature taking on
what the wreckers left behind.'
Until, that is, the current owners acquired it
as part of a farm in the 1970s,
and have been lovingly caring for it ever since.
We came down from the Borders to farm in North Yorkshire,
and now I've slightly diversified out of farming,
and I'm now spending more of my time maintaining the abbey.
I mean, you've poured a fortune into this.
We've sold four houses with the roofs on to keep this one without a roof going.
Preserving what remains of the monastery
is an expensive, painstaking and drawn-out process.
Helping the owners maintain this precious abbey
is John Maloney, a stonemason who's been involved with Jervaulx
since the mid-'80s.
To conserve what's here, each stone has to be individually numbered,
removed, cleaned up and replaced.
And, with around 25,000 stones treated so far,
you can see why John's been kept busy
on and off now for nearly 30 years.
I really do love the feel of this place.
I love the fact that you can climb all over it,
that nowhere's out of bounds, that it's deliberately rough around the edges.
But it is very hard to imagine the full scale,
the grandeur, the colour of it, in its heyday.
All of that seems to have been lost.
Or has it been? Because local legend has it
that at least one piece of Jervaulx treasure
escaped the grasping hands of Henry VIII.
It's believed that one of the churches in the area around Jervaulx
contains an artefact from the abbey.
So I'm off to St Andrew's Church in Aysgarth.
Legend has it that this ornately carved, brightly coloured relic
was salvaged from the abbey during its destruction.
It's said that 20 men heaved this huge oak screen
the ten miles from Jervaulx to the church.
But is the story true?
The screen certainly has all the hallmarks of the monastic screen.
It's very high quality, beautifully painted,
with carved symbolic characters
that once would have served to remind young monks
about the sins of backbiting, drinking and of lust.
Well, it's a magnificent piece of woodwork and carpentry,
but how do we know whether this came from Jervaulx?
Well, there are a couple of ways of working it out.
First of all, just looking at the screen itself,
it has right in the middle, at the top here,
the initials either HM or HW.
And we know that they occur on another piece of furniture
from Jervaulx, from a stall end. That's a pretty good way of guessing.
But Glyn's come to Aysgarth today armed with measurements
taken from the abbey. As all Cistercian abbeys were built
to a similar design, he's pretty certain that he knows
where the screen would once have stood,
as its stone plinth is still in place at Jervaulx.
He has a hunch that, if proven correct,
could finally solve the origin of this mysterious artefact.
The gap in the plinth at Jervaulx is 70 inches.
When we measure it here,
I think we'll find that it's pretty close to 70 inches.
And in fact it's 73 inches exactly.
The width of the door is three inches wider
than the gap at the abbey. Allowing for the stone plinth
to have a one-and-a-half-inch step on each side of the door,
that's a very good match.
The door is the one thing you can't really alter.
We can actually fit this door through the existing foundations at Jervaulx.
This has to come from a monastic church somewhere, and Jervaulx is the nearest.
The craftsmanship that's gone into making this screen is undeniable,
and it allows us a tantalising glimpse into the past,
so that we can imagine just how stunning
the monastery at Jervaulx would have been in its heyday.
And look at it, for its vibrancy and its colour
and the ornate decoration! It's extraordinary.
And this is what a medieval abbey would have looked like inside.
Hundreds of thousands of tourists come to the villages
around this part of Yorkshire through the summer holidays,
but hardly any of them will have discovered Jervaulx Abbey,
and even fewer will know about the painted screen
here in this church. But it all goes to show that,
as I said earlier, the deeper you dig, the more you will discover
about Britain's hidden heritage.
'At Cragside, I'm continuing my quest
'to discover more about Lord Armstrong's inventions.
'The place is filled with gadgets we nowadays take for granted -
'electric bells, an in-house telephone system
'and a lift. But in the 19th century,
'these things were revolutionary.'
We've seen how William Armstrong created his own electricity
before it was in common use. But what did he use it for in the house?
Well, I can tell you, because I'm standing here.
This room was the very first in the world to be lit
by Joseph Swan's newly invented filament light bulb.
What an amazing piece of history!
Sir Joseph Swan was a physicist and chemist
who, like Armstrong, came from the Northeast of England.
Swan invented the incandescent light bulb.
It wasn't long before news of the breakthrough reached Armstrong,
and he had Swan install this technology at Cragside.
And here is one of the original lamp bases.
There are four of them altogether in the room.
The lamp base itself is made of copper,
but it's been beautifully decorated with enamel.
Lovely colours, still vibrant. It's almost cloisonne work.
But it's the copper that helps conduct the current.
This worked by virtue of sitting in its own tray of mercury,
which also conducted the current.
But there was no such thing as a light switch.
You couldn't turn it on or off. It was constantly on.
No-one had thought about this, because it was in its infancy stage,
so in order to turn it off,
you had to take it out of its bed of mercury, like that,
then put it back in to turn it on. But I have to say, back then,
people watching this would be in awe of it.
They would be totally amazed. It would be like seeing a magic show, this whole room perfectly lit.
It's no wonder this house was once described
as "the palace of the modern magician".
In fact, Armstrong harnessed water power
as a means of driving numerous other imaginative gadgets
dotted throughout the house.
What a lovely, big, airy kitchen! Just look at the size of this!
Is this the first dishwasher in the world?
-Well, it's a very early form of dishwasher.
-How does it work?
It's just pressure of water,
that you closed the door so it was all contained,
and you had these jets of water hitting the dishes.
He went to a lot of expense to get the water from the lakes
-or the reservoirs to this house.
-He did indeed,
and that's what makes the whole house work, though - the power of water.
Let's have a look at the spit. I can hear it working.
PAUL CHUCKLES Well, this is the water-powered spit,
which uses a very simple piece of technology
called a Barker's mill, which is a bit like an upside-down garden sprinkler.
And it's just a bit of elegant engineering.
-It is. It's elaborately done.
I must say, I like the little cast-iron urns.
There's no need for that kind of thing on something like that.
They're actually the grease pots for the system.
They fill them with grease. But it's that great age
-of function and beauty.
-It is clever, isn't it?
-It's very clever.
-It's ingenious, and it made it the house
-where modern living began, really.
Cragside's reputation spread rapidly throughout Victorian Britain.
News of Armstrong's household innovations
eventually reached the future king, who invited himself around.
Later I'll find out more about the royal visit to Cragside.
Each week on Britain's Hidden Heritage,
we're sending out a famous face to talk about their heritage passion,
and today, Charlie Boorman sets off to find out
about a submarine that's been on the sea bed
for the last hundred years.
'I've journeyed to the south coast of England
'to the historic naval town of Gosport.
'I've come here to learn about the discovery of a shipwreck,
'a crucial piece of maritime heritage that casts new light
'on the early beginnings of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.'
And that's where my search is going to take me today -
back to the very beginning of the 20th century,
and the very first all-British Navy submarine.
The only problem is that it's not here in dry dock.
It's out there under the sea, where it's been lying in obscurity
for about a hundred years.
'As someone who is nuts about technology,
'this journey of discovery is an incredible opportunity for me.'
'My guide is Martin Davis, who is in charge of monitoring and protecting the site.
'We're motoring to a point just off the coast of Bracklesham Bay...'
'..where, ten metres below the surface,
'lies the boat's remains.
'It's a thrilling ride out. As we close in on the wreck,
'I'm getting even more eager to find out
'what it was they uncovered.'
It's so exciting!
'As we get nearer, Martin uses his onboard sonar
'to help us pinpoint the wreck.'
-So we'll be able to see it on here?
-We certainly will,
-if we just go very slowly now.
Carefully go round it. We should just see the wreck
rise from the seabed.
OK. HE CHUCKLES
You'll get a good view of it. Here she comes.
-There she comes. Oh, yeah!
-Little hint of it there.
Oh, my gosh! Yeah! There it is, and it's just sitting there
on the bed of the sea, just below us, literally.
'What I'm seeing today is exactly what a fisherman saw
'in 1987, when the mysterious structure showed up on his sonar.
'He didn't know it at the time,
'but what the fisherman was looking at was the tower of a submarine.'
What an experience to come across it, be the first to see it!
'It was, however, obvious to him he'd stumbled across a large wreck.
'But it took a local dive team to establish
'just what had been unearthed.'
We come out the following day to see what the obstruction was,
-not knowing what it was.
Couldn't see hardly anything at all.
Bumped into what turned out to be a compass,
just there on the bottom.
The discovery of a compass was a tantalising find.
But visibility in British waters can be poor...
..and the team had to make numerous trips
before they could work out what had been found.
We come back the following week.
The vis had gone from zero to three metres.
We realised it was a very early-type submarine.
The team had a hunch the submarine dated back
to the very beginnings of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.
By the start of the 20th century,
countries like France, Japan and the US
had begun to realise the potential submarines had for military use,
and the British were keen not to be left behind.
So, in 1900, under a veil of secrecy,
Vickers Sons and Maxim, at the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard,
set about developing their very own submarine,
codenamed the A1.
And, incredibly, it's this very submarine
Gordon and the divers had discovered.
I'd been diving quite a few years, finding absolutely nothing, really.
Then coming across this...
Yeah. Absolutely amazing.
Astonishingly, the A1 had been lying on the sea bed
for a hundred years, half buried in a sandbank
just outside the mouth of the busy Chichester harbour,
five miles from where she was reported to have sunk.
The experimental submarine, seen here on the day of her maiden voyage,
proved to have a remarkable performance
when put through her paces.
With her crew of 11,
the A1 had a top speed of eight knots,
was over 30 metres long,
could travel 25 miles under water,
was armed with a single-firing torpedo tube,
and one of the first practical modern periscopes.
Conditions may have been cramped and basic for the sailors,
but at the time, she was still one of the most advanced submarines
anywhere in the world.
Since her discovery, the A1 has been the subject
of numerous archaeological dives,
and the vessel has given up some extraordinary finds.
My God, they're unbelievably... in perfect condition.
-God, they're beautiful!
Out of all the binoculars that have been found
by not only myself but Gordon and the others,
over the years, many pairs of binoculars,
but the first that have been restored back to working condition.
They do work, don't they? You can see.
-The quality of the brass is fantastic.
That's incredible. Ross of London, they're from.
They were hanging, in their case, down in the conning tower.
When I reached in to lift them out on the strap,
the strap came off the case, and they tumbled back down
-into the submarine.
-Oh, my gosh. So they were...
They laid inside on the floor for about two years.
A wealth of remarkably well preserved artefacts
have been salvaged from the A1...
..and restored back to their former glory.
However, there is still one piece of the A1's story
that is missing -
how she ended up in her final resting place...
..and what happened to the crew.
To uncover the truth, my search has brought me
to the vault of the Royal Navy Submarine Museum,
where thousands of blueprints, photographs
and declassified military documents are held,
and that stretch right back to the very beginnings
of the Submarine Service.
I'm especially keen to learn about those early pioneers
who volunteered to sail in this dangerous,
relatively untested technology.
The thought of being, you know, in a...in a metal contraption
under the sea... I mean, it took a lot of nerve, didn't it?
I say to people that it's almost like, to us,
-going up in a space shuttle.
-Yeah. Real guts.
But they just sort of took it as everyday part of life
for these guys. It's just the norm.
But in March 1904, events took a tragic turn
for the A1 and her pioneering crew.
The submarine, captained by Lieutenant Mansergh,
sailed to the Solent,
ready to take part in the first full Royal Navy training exercise
to involve a submarine.
Mansergh, the captain, was attacking a surface vessel.
It was the last day of the manoeuvres,
and he was keen to press home his attack.
A fast liner, the Berwick Castle, comes steaming through the exercise areas.
-Yeah, civilian liner.
And she doesn't see the periscope.
The captain of the submarine is so intent on his attack
that he doesn't see the liner bearing down on his submarine,
so there's a collision,
and the submarine immediately fills with water,
because there's no partitions,
and as soon as the damage occurred,
the crew would have been stunned, unable to do anything,
and all 11 of the crew were killed.
The brave men that lost their lives in the A1 tragedy
became the first fatal casualties of the Royal Navy Submarine Service.
The crew had been made up of volunteers
recruited from the Navy, with the inducement
of an increased daily pay. They were all young family men,
like CP Bailey, whose wife would play Let Me Like A Soldier Fall
on her gramophone when her husband went on his underwater missions,
never knowing whether he would return.
On this occasion, he didn't.
These are the names of the crew who were killed in the accident.
-Oh, it's kind of sad to see that, really.
They were so young as well, weren't they?
The sinking of HMS A1 certainly serves as a stark reminder
of the risks taken by these heroic pioneers.
Did they recover the vessel straight away, or...
It took them some time to salvage the vessel,
but she was raised. The crew were buried here locally.
The damaged A1 was repaired and re-entered into service.
But in 1911, she sank again,
this time during an unmanned exercise.
But now it would be another 80 years before she was ever seen again.
However, it has left behind a legacy. It's because of the A1
that all submarines were subsequently fitted
with double-hatched conning towers, increasing the chances of survival for crews.
In fact, many of the safety features and designs of modern submarines
can all be traced back to this iconic boat
and its heroic crew.
But what does the future hold?
The A1 submarine is part of our heritage,
whether it's out there on the bottom of the ocean or in a museum.
But for me, it's a little bit too hidden.
The people who built the A1 were ingenious, brave,
and they were pioneering,
and the fruits of their labour shouldn't be allowed to rot away
at the bottom of the sea.
With my visit to Cragside Estate nearly over,
there's just one final surprise left in store.
This house was so advanced for its time,
it became so well known among the upper echelons of society,
that it was only a matter of time before it had a visit
from the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII,
a man known for his passion of all things modern.
And by all accounts, he was absolutely fascinated
to visit "the palace of the modern magician".
And he gave William Armstrong enough notice of his impending visit -
enough time, in fact, for Armstrong to extend Cragside once again.
In just over 18 months, an outstanding new wing was completed
ready for the prince's visit. It was designed to be grand enough
to host royalty, but charming and comfortable enough
to fit in with Cragside's homely interiors.
Ooh, this is nice, isn't it?
It's cosy, and it's not over the top.
It is. This is where the royal family stayed when they visited
-How many nights did they stay for?
They stayed for three nights in this set of suites, in three rooms.
They came because these suites had hot and cold running water,
were centrally heated, were way ahead of their time
from what they were used to at Buckingham Palace,
-so it was a novelty for them.
-The mod cons!
They must have been impressed, mustn't they?
But for once, it wasn't Armstrong's futuristic technologies
that are the biggest talking points of the royal apartments.
Perhaps the most impressive feature is to be found
in the new drawing room, and it's this colossal chimneypiece.
You get into this room, and all of a sudden
it smacks of Classical Renaissance, because of that.
It does, but you have to remember that this room was the wow-factor
for the royal visit that Lord Armstrong had.
But it dominates the room.
I think it commands the room too much.
You walk in here and you see this wonderful cove ceiling,
with this heavy relief plasterwork, and this curved fanlight
which is absolutely stunning. Then your eyes drop down.
You go, "Wow." I mean, is that Italian?
It's all marble. It's Renaissance in style.
It's ten tons of marble, Italian marble.
It was shipped in pieces to London, carved in London,
and then came up in pieces by boat to a local port,
-came by horse and cart and was put together here.
-All to impress the royal visitors.
-You could stand 30-odd people in that fireplace.
'Of course, it's ironic that this decorative fireplace
'could be the focus of the home that was such a talking point
'for its revolutionary central-heating system.'
'But it does serve to remind us
'that Cragside was more than just a laboratory
'for Armstrong to carry out his numerous innovations.
'It was the home of a man with an appreciation for beautiful form
'as well as technological function.'
Armstrong died in 1900, at the age of 90.
He had no children, and his wealth and estate
passed to his great-nephew.
The technological innovations that Cragside represented
for so many years at last had come to an end.
What I've discovered today is the extraordinary legacy
of one of Britain's most underrated inventors.
William Armstrong truly was a visionary,
seeing water, as opposed to gas or coal,
as a clean source of power and energy,
and always trying to lighten the load for the workman
with his inventions. That's why it's so fitting
that Cragside should be preserved and restored
for future generations to appreciate.
But more than anything, it should stand as a lasting monument
to the man who created it - Lord William Armstrong.
If you want more information on today's show,
check out our website at...
Next time on Britain's Hidden Heritage,
I uncover a house with a very long and grand past.
Charlie Luxton goes on the hunt for some of our lost heroes
of the Industrial Revolution.
Clare Balding finds out about the inspiration
behind one of our best-loved romantic novels.
And Ann Widdecombe takes to the road
to find out more about the desperate flight of Charles II.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd
E-mail [email protected]
Presenter Paul Martin and his team travel up and down the nation looking for undiscovered treasures and forgotten places that tell us about Britain's rich and astonishing history.
Paul visits Cragside House in Northumberland, home to one of Victorian Britain's least remembered inventors, Lord William Armstrong, who paved the way for domestic electricity.
Charlie Luxton spends the night in Lincoln Castle, in a 19th century prison that was closed down 130 years ago; Clare Balding travels to North Yorkshire to visit one of the country's most beautiful and obscure ruined abbeys, and guest reporter Charley Boorman uncovers the sunken remains of Britain's very first submarine.