Magazine article History Today

Death of Lord Armstrong

Magazine article History Today

Death of Lord Armstrong

Article excerpt

December 27th, 1900

A brilliant inventor and engineer, William George Armstrong was also an armaments magnate, a considerate and generous man who manufactured killing machinery in large quantitities. Born in 1810, the son of a Newcastle businessman, he was fascinated by machines as a child. In his early twenties, he became a partner in a leading Newcastle firm of solicitors with the curiously prophetic name of Armorer Donkin. This would bring him a network of valuable contacts, but he was more interested in hydraulic engineering than in the law -- his family joked that he had water on the brain -- and was elected a fellow of the Royal Society for his contributions to the subject. In 1847 he formed a company with his uncle to manufacture hydraulic cranes and machinery for docks, mines and railways. Jesse Hartley, the Liverpool Docks engineer, was one of the first customers and the company prospered.

With the start of the Crimean War, Armstrong turned his ingenuity to the improvement of artillery, developing an impressively accurate field gun, the Armstrong breech-loader. In 1859 he was knighted and, in effect, made gun-maker in chief to the British Army. …

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