The First BREEAM “Outstanding”

Cragside the first BREEEAM “Outstanding”

A few years ago I mentioned to John Holmes that Cragside was the “Bill Gates” house of its time. I was reminded of that conversation recently during Science Week in Newcastle when I attended a reenactment of William Armstrong’s admirable speech1

Cragside2 was the Worlds first house to be lit with hydro-electricity. The house has been described as the magician’s palace. I am about to read the Heald book3, but looking ahead into the chapter on Cragside, which is entitled “Paradise on Earth”, I see that another innovation was the kitchen built twice the height of normal to relieve temperature and let in light. Also I think the ecology credits would all have been scored.

So, even with the use of coal as a heating fuel (ENE 1 credit, if we extrapolate backwards would have allowed this solution, but it would have had to be efficient, which it was), this was the first BREEAM “Outstanding”. Also noted that in the “admirable speech”, Armstrong was mentioning Tindale’s work on atmosphere.

So, if you are in Northumberland, do pay it a visit, the World’s first BREEAM outstanding, with a full collection of innovation credits.

1 ‘Armstrong’s admirable speech’ was how Charles Darwin described Sir William Armstrong’s presidential address in 1863 to the British Association for the Advancement of Science. Sir Roderick Murchison, another scientific luminary, called it ‘the best speech ever delivered at the British Association’.


3 H Heald, “William Armstrong. The Magician of the North”, McNidder and Grace , 2012


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