The North East and Scottish Borders
4th - 8th September 2017
One of a series of unique, small-group tours, led by the key experts in the field, exploring the impact of technology on our great country houses and the people who lived and worked there.
Led by Professor Marilyn Palmer MBE
4 nights, half-board in comfortable 4 star accommodation - from about £760 per person
( Includes about £86 of entrance and special tour fees. Discount for NT members )
Special half-price book offer:
"Technology in the Country House" by Marilyn Palmer and Ian West available with this tour
Change of itinerary: See Day 3 below
Booking is now closed

During the late 18th and 19th centuries a variety of technological innovations were becoming available to enhance the comfort and convenience of domestic life but, far from urban centres, the great Country Houses had to be self sufficient in the provision of gas, electricity, sanitation and water supply if they wished to make use of them.

Subsequently, the decline of many country houses, together with their being donated to the National Trust and their opening to the public, has meant that less alteration has taken place than in domestic property and evidence survives of the impact which these innovations had on the buildings, landscape and social structure.

For a number of years Professor Marilyn Palmer and Dr Ian West have been studying the technology in a wide range of country houses, examining both the physical remains and the historical evidence and trying to place them in the wider context of the effects they had on country house servants as well as house owners, families and guests.

Heritage of Industry is delighted to have secured Prof. Palmer and Dr West to lead this series of unique tours where they will guide us through some of theses grand residences, help us to understand some of the fascinating artefacts still to be seen and explain how they changed the lives of those who lived there – both above and below stairs.

Unlike coach company tours, which rely on the normal guides, our expert leaders, working in conjunction with the Collections Managers, give a unique insight to these properties. In most cases, we secure access to the properties early in the day when the houses are not yet open to the public so that we will have the place to ourselves for the duration of the tour and in certain cases are granted permission to see areas not normally open to the public.

At each property, after our special tour, we try to make time for you to further explore the house and gardens.

This tour explores the North East of England and the Border country of Scotland, an area of great natural beauty and with some magnificent examples of the great Country House with the remains of some fascinating early technology.

The best known house for its technology, Armstrong’s Cragside, is included in this tour together with a number of private houses - some only open by special request.

This tour was sold out the first time it ran and we expect great interest so book early to avoid disappointment.

Note that the order of visits may vary from that shown below


Day 1

The tour begins at our uniqe and very comfortable hotel in Newcastle where we will be spending our first two nights. The hotel is close to transport links and is a good location for the group to assemble.

Dinner will be served in a private room after which there will be a talk by Marilyn Palmer: “An Introduction to Country House Technology”

Overnight at the hotel in Newcastle.

Day 2

In the morning we will drive to Cragside for a full days’ exploration of this huge site. Inside the house we can see how Lord Armstrong, Tyneside's notable industrialist, engineer, innovator (and arms manufacturer) created one of the most modern and surprising houses for its time in the country. By the 1880s, the house had hot and cold running water, central heating, fire alarms, telephones, a Turkish bath suite, a hydraulic passenger lift and became the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectricity.

We will begin with a special guided tour of the “Armstrong Trail” led by the site engineer. This starts at the Pump House, which contains the original hydraulic engine that provided drinking water to the house and then winds its way through some of the most beautiful scenery of the estate to the Power House where Armstrong's hydroelectric generating equipment is housed.

Surrounding the house is one of the largest rock gardens in Europe, planted with heathers, heaths and azaleas. Within the rock garden the paths are narrow with stone steps. In the centre of the rock garden is the restored cascade, which tumbles like a mountain stream to the Debdon burn in the valley.

The Formal Garden, across the valley from the house, is laid out in three terraces on a south-facing slope and is filled with seasonal bedding, trees and shrubs. The garden originally contained a huge glasshouse range where plants from all over the world would have been grown. The magnificent Orchard House is filled with fruit trees of all types.

The Pinetum is a collection of conifers planted by Lord Armstrong over 130 years ago. Some of the trees have grown to be ‘Champions’ – among the largest known examples of their species in England. The plant collection at Cragside is the largest collection in numbers and the biggest in its sheer physical size and Lord and Lady Armstrong directed the planting of seven million trees.

Lunch is available in the café on site.

At the end of the afternoon the coach will return to our Newcastle hotel.

After a group dinner in a private room the evening is at leisure.

Day 3

Change of itinerary:

Since the retirement of the gentleman who previously led the basement exploration at Alnwick Castle we have been negotiating with the staff there to repeat this, but the result is that they are no longer able to provide this part of the visit. We think this is the most interesting feature of Alnwick from the point of view of our specialist tour and we have therefore decided to remove Alnwick from the itinerary. However this does give us the opportunity to include two other exciting visits which we are sure you will find more than compensate for this.

In the morning we will visit Paxton House near Berwick, where our special tour will be led by John Home Robertson who set up the Paxton Trust and owned the house.

Paxton has a fine Georgian kitchen, restored a few years ago, and we can see the servants’ staircase and the 19th century bathrooms which remain in place. There are also service bells and the remains of a dumb waiter and, via some steep stairs, we can ascend to the unrestored attics - not normally open to the public.

Also at Paxton, and thanks to generous funding from the HLF amongst others, work has now started on the restoration of the Blackadder waterwheel and pump, originally installed c.1755-60, and we will be able to see the progress of this work on one of the oldest pumped domestic water supplies in Scotland.

Paxton stands in 80 acres of landscaped gardens with woodland walks and riverside scenery.

Lunch is available in the café (not included)

In the afternoon we will visit Bamburgh Castle - one of the largest inhabited castles in the country - whose history goes back to Anglo Saxon times.

The link to our story is that Lord Armstrong (responsible for Cragside which we visit on the Tuesday) oversaw the restoration of the castle and tried to ensure that everything was in keeping with the grandeur and wealth of the 19th Century. As a notable philanthropist, he had planned for part of it to be used as a convalescent home, but sadly he passed away before the restoration was complete. It is still owned and managed by the Armstrong family.

After an introductory talk you will be able to explore the Castle at will.

The former laundry now houses the Armstrong & Aviation Museum which tells some of the remarkable achievements of the first Lord Armstrong and his trail blazing engineering career as well as housing aviation artefacts from two world wars.

Outside there are stunning views out to sea and inland to the Cheviots from the heart of Northumberland's Coastal Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Fitting in these two great houses means that we will not have time to visit Heatherslaw Mill.

The evening talk has been moved to Day 4

Overnight at a very comfortable hotel in Border country.

Day 4

Abbotsford, the former home of Sir Walter Scott, is now open again after an extensive programme of repair and refurbishment. Scott was the first in Scotland to experiment with gas lighting and the first demonstration to outsiders in 1823 was something of an occasion. Scott’s biographer wrote “Dinner passed off, and the sun went down, and suddenly, at the turning of a screw, the room was filled with a splendour worthy of the palace of Aladdin”. We shall be able to see where this happened and some of the original fittings, which are still in place, amongst many other fascinating artefacts.

At Abbotsford, Scott assembled an estate by various land purchases, created enclosed gardens and parkland to complement the house, and laid out the largely unimproved land to form an extended wooded agricultural landscape which is uniquely adapted to its Tweedside setting.

Unusually, the walled Kitchen Garden is set on quite a steep slope. Angled to the south and west, this gives lovely views up a double herbaceous border to the little gothic Orangery at the top (designed by Scott with John Smith). Behind the borders, the space is divided up into quadrants with vegetable and fruit beds. Looking back down the garden from here, one gets the best view of the house with its multi towers and turrets, its crow stepped gables and romantic architecture.

A little bridge leads over the “moat” through the line of cloister arches through which red roses peep, and down into the Morris Garden. This is named after a character from Rob Roy whose kneeling statue is in the middle of the lawn.

After our visit we will drive to Traquair House where we will have a simple light lunch in the café (included).

After lunch we will look inside the house which dates back to 1107 and was originally a hunting lodge for the kings and queens of Scotland. Later a refuge for Catholic priests in times of terror, the Stuarts of Traquair supported Mary Queen of Scots and the Jacobite cause without counting the cost.

We shall spend some time looking at the mechanical bell system which was installed in very historic fabric (even then – 1820s) so that all the bell wires, cranks etc are on show and little has been removed.

The natural beauty of Traquair's grounds are a perfect complement to the intimate nature of the house which nestles amongst the most wonderful trees planted mainly in the 1870's and containing huge Douglas Firs, Limes, Ash, Horse Chestnut and Beech. Perhaps, most spectacular of all is the yew tree circle thought to have been part of the old Ettrick Forest and certainly some of the oldest yews in Scotland.

Although there are no formal gardens at Traquair there are some beautiful and relaxing spaces in the grounds where you can enjoy the wildlife or just relax and enjoy the peace. The old walled garden houses the Cottage Restaurant and visitors are invited to take tea amongst the old apple trees and relax with the gentle sound of the fountain from the garden pond A new herbaceous border is also being developed in this area. At the west side of the house you will discover Cupid's garden tucked away where the theme of the planting is white and grey and is a genuinely romantic spot. Near Cupid's garden you will also find the Croquet Lawn where a heather hut built in 1834 still stands.

We will also have the opportunity to visit the small brewery on-site which was established in the early 1700s for local consumption but today sells its beers through outlets all over the world.

In the evening, after dinner in a private room, Marilyn will talk on the more technical aspects of Country House Technology, including lighting, heating and communications.

Day 5

Manderston is the supreme country house of Edwardian Scotland; the swan-song of its era and was the house where the TV reality show “The Edwardian Country House” was made.

It is a house on which no expense was spared with opulent staterooms, the only silver-staircase in the world and extensive "downstairs" domestic quarters which we will enjoy exploring and we shall see the largest range of service bells yet found during Marilyn and Ian’s researches and much else besides. We also plan to visit the generator house on the Home Farm – sadly no engine is left but the very ornate building is well worth a look.

The house stands in 56 acres of formal and informal gardens, with magnificent stables and a stunning marble dairy. Beyond the lawn in front of the house is the gateway to the formal garden with the gates gilded, to catch the light from the setting sun. A gate in the style of eighteenth-century architect James Gibbs and a portico of spiralled columns add to its grandeur.

On the south side of the house, are four formal garden terraces still planted in Edwardian style. A geometric terrace is now stocked with floribunda roses and hostas. To one side is a small grass terrace, edged by four large stone vases. Below it, through a wrought-iron gate with griffins adorning the piers, is a tennis lawn, and below that, a croquet lawn. There is a stone dovecote on the far side by the elevated terrace provided for spectators.

The lower terraces are surrounded by a bank of rhododendrons down to the lake, smoothly achieving the transition from nineteenth-century formal gardens to eighteenth-century picturesque landscape. The lake, the shape of the landscape and the Chinese bridge, probably date from the time of the eighteenth-century house. The combination of formal and informal gardens at Manderston is unique in Scotland.

A simple light lunch is included.

After the visit the coach will return to Newcastle main railway station where the tour ends.


Professor Marilyn Palmer MBE
Marilyn read History at St Anne’s College, Oxford, and then worked in teacher training before joining the History Department of the University of Loughborough and becoming its Head in 1983. She transferred to the University of Leicester becoming Head of the School of Archaeology and Britain’s first Professor of Industrial Archaeology. She is President of the Association for Industrial Archaeology and was a Commissioner with The Royal Commission on the Historical Monuments of England before its amalgamation with English Heritage. She serves on committees concerned with her discipline for The National Trust and the Council for British Archaeology and is the Subject Adviser for Archaeology for the University of the Third Age, for whom she runs study days as well as a large Archaeology Group. She was awarded an Award of Merit by the Society for Historical Archaeology of the USA in 2005 for her success in integrating industrial archaeology into mainstream archaeology and then an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours list in June 2015 "for services to Industrial Archaeology and Heritage"


Our hotel in Newcastle was built c1850 and is a grade 1 and 2 listed building which boasts elegant architecture and was opened by Queen Victoria. All rooms are en-suite, fitted with television with digital and music channels, tea and coffee making facilities and small fridge. Guests have free access to the leisure club, which includes a gymnasium, swimming pool, plunge pool, Jacuzzi, sauna and steam room.

Our hotel in the Scottish Borders is an 18th Century listed building. The en-suite rooms are equipped to the highest standard including TV and Radio, hairdryer, tea & coffee making facilities and Complimentary Arran Aromatics Toiletries. Each room has been individually decorated to make your stay restful and relaxing. Luxurious linens and soft furnishings with a modern Scottish twist give each room its own unique character.


The tour starts at our hotel in Newcastle on the Monday evening and ends at the main railway station Newcastle by about 14:45 on the Friday afternoon and drop off at the airport can also be included if required.

Newcastle is well served by road, rail and air transport links from the rest of the UK, mainland Europe and the United States. As we expect group members to come from many different locations we leave you to make your own travel arrangements to and from Newcastle to suit your own convenience and use of alternative departure points.

Travel during the tour will be by luxury, air-conditioned coach.

Detailed joining instructions will be supplied in good time.


The cost of this tour will be £760 per person sharing, single supplement £110, with a discount of £16 per person for National Trust members (there is only one NT property on this tour, NT membership cards must be carried with you). The single supplement reflects the additional costs for single occupancy charged by the hotels.

In organising these very specialist and unique, small group, tours we do not enjoy the same economies of scale which are available to us for our larger group tours. Nevertheless we believe that the cost represents excellent value for money and compares very favourably with other specialist operators.

This includes:
  • An itinerary packed with visits to fascinating sites
  • 4 nights dinner, bed & breakfast
  • A light lunch on Days 4 & 5
  • Luxury air conditioned coach transport to all sites and driver tip
  • All entrance and special tour fees (amounting to about £86)
  • Expert guiding and services of a tour manager throughout
  • Research for the visit
  • Professionally produced, comprehensive tour notes
Excluded are:
  • Lunches (except Days 4 & 5)
  • Drinks
  • Expenses at the hotels other than dinner, bed & breakfast
All costs are in Pounds Sterling (GBP) and are based on present accommodation, transport costs and taxes. Any change in these may necessitate a price change.


Please note that cancellation charges will apply from 10th July 2017, and, although these will be modified to the extent that costs are not actually incurred, you are strongly advised to insure against the need to cancel.

Non-UK residents also need to consider medical treatment and repatriation charges in the event of illness etc. Participants who do not have travel insurance must nevertheless accept full responsibility for these eventualities.

UK residents who do not already have travel insurance may like to contact Avanti Travel Insurance, who specialise in providing cover for older travellers and those with medical conditions, both single-trip and annual policies, quoting reference “Heritage of Industry” for a competitive quote.

Website:  Email:  Phone: 0800 888 6195


Booking is now closed

Bookings will be taken on a first-come, first-served basis, subject to space availability. Booking is subject to a minimum of 12 and a maximum of 20 people . Book as soon as possible and by 10th July 2017 to ensure a place but please feel free to enquire after that date if a place is still available. We will contact you as soon as possible to confirm the booking and to issue an invoice for the balance of the price.

A non-refundable deposit of £75 per person is required on booking. Bookings can be made definite only when the booking details and deposit are received and accepted in writing/email by Heritage of Industry Ltd. The company's standard terms and conditions apply. The balance of the price is to be paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd on presentation of the invoice. All monies paid to Heritage of Industry Ltd will be held, in accordance with government regulations**, in a customer protection account until the tour is complete so that your money is safe no matter what happens.

If you wish to take advantage of our special offer of a copy of Marilyn and Ian's book "Technology in the Country House" tick the box on the booking form and include the additional cost of £30.00 with the

Books will be dispatched as soon as they are available - this should be in early September depending on the delivery time from the publisher. Note that if for any reason we are unable to run the tour then your deposit will be returned to you as normal but you may keep your copy of the book.

Payment should be made via electronic banking but sterling cheques drawn on a UK bank are also acceptable.

Enquiries about this tour should be directed to:

Bill Barksfield
Managing Director
Heritage of Industry Ltd, The Gables, 20 Main Road, East Hagbourne, Oxon OX11 9LN UK
Tel: +44 1235 352275  (9am - 5.30pm GMT)

** The Package Travel, Package Holidays and Package Tours Regulations 1992 (SI 1992 No. 3288)