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William Armstrong: Magician of the North Hardcover – 30 Sep 2010

4.7 out of 5 stars 32 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Northumbria Press (30 Sept. 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1904794491
  • ISBN-13: 978-1904794493
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 717,496 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Armstrong deserves to be recognised as one of the titans of the 19th century… this book should do much to readdress the balance. --Country Life

...a fascinating new book about him demonstrates that he is just as relevant now as he was in Victorian times. --BBC North

William Armstrong was an engineering genius and perceptive scientist but his part in Britain's 19th-century history has been shamefully neglected. So hooray for Henrietta Heald, who gives us a thoroughly researched, finely written and helpfully illustrated biography. (And let me add that her publishers, Northumbria Press, are to be congratulated on the peerless quality of this hard-cover edition.) Heald skilfully relates Armstrong's story as an entertaining and gripping account of a grammar school boy who grew up in a book-filled home and ended up as the builder and owner of Cragside, which remains one of the most famous great houses of England. In an England of scheming, snobbery and jealousy, it was not an easy journey. Her book is essential reading for anyone interested in the the power and greatness of Victorian England for which Armstrong's contribution was as great as that of the railway engineers such as Stephenson and Brunel. And do not assume that Henrietta would let us down on the technicalities of Armstrong's inventions; she merely makes them explicit enough for people such as me to understand. --Len Deighton

...a fascinating new book about him demonstrates that he is just as relevant now as he was in Victorian times. --BBC North

William Armstrong was an engineering genius and perceptive scientist but his part in Britain's 19th-century history has been shamefully neglected. So hooray for Henrietta Heald, who gives us a thoroughly researched, finely written and helpfully illustrated biography. (And let me add that her publishers, Northumbria Press, are to be congratulated on the peerless quality of this hard-cover edition.) Heald skilfully relates Armstrong's story as an entertaining and gripping account of a grammar school boy who grew up in a book-filled home and ended up as the builder and owner of Cragside, which remains one of the most famous great houses of England. In an England of scheming, snobbery and jealousy, it was not an easy journey. Her book is essential reading for anyone interested in the the power and greatness of Victorian England for which Armstrong's contribution was as great as that of the railway engineers such as Stephenson and Brunel. And do not assume that Henrietta would let us down on the technicalities of Armstrong's inventions; she merely makes them explicit enough for people such as me to understand. --Len Deighton

About the Author

Henrietta Heald has edited books on British history and travel, interior design and architecture, and whose best sellers include the monumental Chronicle of Britain. She has contributed to many publications, including the Spectator and The Times.


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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By AlanMusicMan TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Feb. 2011
Format: Hardcover
I serendipitously discovered Cragside, Sir William's house, via the Open University back in the 1980s.

In the late 1980s, OU programmes used to play on BBC2 in a two hour block during Saturday mornings. Having accidentally discovered that some of these programmes could be really interesting, even to a casual viewer, I took to recording them each week so that I might have something interesting to watch when I got home from work in the week (yes, prime-time TV was pretty patchy then, too!).

One of the series I hoovered up in this way were the programmes that went with a course called "Arts Foundation (A102)" - all about the appreciation of art & architecture. One of the episodes I captured (and I still have it, transferred to DVD in all its VHS wobbliness!) was about the contents, the creation and the background of William Armstrong's magnificent creation on the Northumberland moorland, Cragside. Fascinated by this isolated, yet highly advanced and quirky house, I watched it over and over again.

It wasn't long before I dragged the family up north on a visit to see Cragside (a National Trust property for several decades now) for real. Ever since then, we have visited periodically: Visits which refresh the soul and reaffirm the belief that man can shape nature in a sympathetic and mutually beneficial way. It's easy to see why Armstrong was able to entertain royalty of all nations at the estate - it was and is, a wonder of the world.

Being a massive fan of Cragside of course leads one to a certain curiosity about its creator. - but I was frustrated that (even in the Cragside gift shop) there was only one very slim volume summarising William Armstrong's life and achievements.
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Format: Hardcover
Draws you into the world of engineering, politics and arms sales of the time

A must for any researcher but also a very good read to understand the drivers and pitfalls for self made captains of industry during this period of fast expansion of engineering.

Successful engineers of this era were only a small group but have set a precedent for success in big business up to the present day

Congratulations to Henrietta Heald
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Format: Hardcover
This is a well researched and very readable account of a remarkable man who was a pivotal figure in the industrial revolution. Given Armstrong's contributions to fields as diverse as hydraulics, shipbuilding, locomotives, guns, architecture and electric light it is extraordinary that he is not more well known. Fascinating!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Henrietta Heald's account of William Armstrong's life is beautifully-written and magisterial in managing to encompass the events and thinking of the time. Armstrong has not had the recognition he deserves. He was a visionary genius. Henrietta Heald does him proud!
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Bought as a gift for my husband to read on holiday he found it very interesting with lots of information.We had to go back for another visit to Cragside,It also rekindled his interest in Vickers Armstrongs factories along Scotswood Road which he remembered from his childhood. William Armstrong was a very clever man ahead of his time Would highly recommend this book.
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Armstrong was a very important figure in the history of engineering who does seem to have been forgotten. This book covers his life and achievements in considerable detail. While interesting, I found it heavy going at times, with rather excessive quotes from letters etc, and too much detail about periferal events. However, over all I am glad I read it, and really hope to be able to go to visit Armstrong's house Cragside within the near future.
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An excellent account of how Armstrong, one of our greatest Victorian engineers, who ranks alongside Brunel, by genius and sweat increased our standard of living which today's population think they should have for nothing ! Pity the name Armstrong, due to take-overs, is missing from our list of engineering firms today.
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I have always been interested in industrial history: this book is a must for anyone with similar interests. I have visited Cragside, and was at uni in Newcastle, so had a great affinity for this man. A superb story, brilliantly told.
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