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was clothed with beauty. At Cragside, too, he dispensed a princely hospitality, and numerous men of distinction were among his guests.
In 1872 Armstrong visited Egypt to advise a method of obviating the interruption to the Nile traffic caused by the cataracts. His interesting lectures to the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, describing his journey and the antiquities on the river-bank, were published in 1874.
In later life Armstrong’s happiest hours, when not employed in planting or building, were devoted to electrical research in his laboratory at Cragside. He expressed the opinion that, if he had given to electricity the time spent upon hydraulics, the results would have been even more remunerative.
Among his early experiments with his hydro-electric machine he had shown that a cotton filament in two adjacent glasses travels towards the positive electrode in one, while an encircling tube of water moves towards the negative electrode in the other. This was the starting-point of his subsequent researches into the nature of the electric discharge. About 1892 he repeated the experiment in a modified form, using a RuhmkorfF induction coil giving an 18-inch spark, and he suggested that the phenomenon indicated the co-existence of two opposite currents in the movements of electricity, the negative being surrounded by the positive, like a core within a tube. In 1897 Armstrong published a beautifully illustrated volume on ‘Electric Movement in Air and Water,’ in which he discussed the most remarkable series of figures ever obtained by electric discharge over photographic plates. In these later investigations he employed a Wimshurst machine with sixteen plates, each 34 inches in diameter. In the following November he invited Dr. H. Stroud, of the Durham College of Science, to continue his experiments. In a supplement to his book (1899) Armstrong developed a method of studying the phenomena of sudden electric discharge based upon the formation of Lichtenburg figures. The results confirm the accuracy of the interpretation as to positive and negative distribution in his earlier work, and also extend the study of electric discharge in new directions.
Throughout his life Armstrong was a notable benefactor of his native city. There is hardly any meritorious institution in Newcastle or the neighbourhood, educational or charitable, which was not largely indebted to his assistance. He was a member of council of the Durham College of Science (1878–1900). He laid the foundation stone of the present buildings (1887), and he was a generous subscriber to its funds. He used his genius for landscape gardening to beautify Jesmond Dene, and then presented it to the town with some ninety-three acres, part of which is included in the Armstrong Park. In July 1886 Armstrong was induced to offer himself as a liberal unionist candidate for the representation of Newcastle in parliament, but, chiefly owing to labour troubles, was not returned. Two months afterwards he was presented with the freedom of the city, and in June 1887 he was raised to the peerage as Baron Armstrong in consideration of his varied and eminent public services. He represented Rothbury on the Northumberland county council, 1889–92. He purchased Bamborough Castle in 1894, intending to devote a portion of it to the purposes of a convalescent home. He commenced nobly conceived restorations, but he did not live to see the completion of his designs.
Armstrong’s great services to scientific invention were rewarded by many distinctions apart from those already mentioned, and numerous foreign decorations. He was created D.C.L. Durham (1882), Master of Engineering, Dublin (1892), and he received the Bessemer medal, 1891. He was an original member of the Iron and Steel Institute; president of the Mechanical Engineers, 1861, 1862, 1869; of the North of England Mining and Mechanical Engineers, 1872–3, 1873–4, 1874–5; of the Institute of Civil Engineers, 1882; of the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle, 1860–1900; of the Natural History Society of Northumberland, Durham, and Newcastle, 1890–1900.
Armstrong died at Cragside on 27 Dec. 1900. On the last day of the nineteenth century his remains were laid beside those of his wife (who died on 2 Sept. 1893) in the extension of Rothbury churchyard, which overlooks the river Coquet. By his death Newcastle lost her greatest citizen, who conferred upon the city not only glory but most substantial benefits. Armstrong’s name will always stand high among the most illustrious men of the nineteenth century, who have rendered it memorable for the advance in scientific knowledge and in the adaptation of natural forces to the service of mankind.Armstrong had no issue, and his heir was his grand-nephew, William Henry Armstrong FitzPatrick Watson, son of John William Watson (the son of Armstrong’s only sister), by his wife, Margaret Godman, daughter of Patrick Person FitzPatrick, esq., of FitzLeat House, Bognor. Armstrong’s grand-nephew, in 1889, on his marriage with