The Armstrong Building

Drawing of the exterior of the Armstrong Building 1893, NUA/041017/15, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

The Armstrong Building is the oldest building on the campus and is the site of the original Armstrong College. It was constructed and opened in three stages between 1888 and 1906.  The final stage of opening in 1906 was carried out by King Edward VII. The building contains the impressive wood-panelled King’s Hall, which serves as the University’s chief venue for ceremonial events including Congregations. The Hall was named in honour of King Edward VII.  

Photograph of wounded servicemen and nurses on Ward A1 of the 1st Northern General Hospital 1914-1919, NUA/041017-18, Newcastle University Archives, Newcastle University Special Collections, GB 186

During the First World War, the building was requisitioned by the War Office to create the 1st Northern General Hospital, a facility for the Royal Army Medical Corps to treat military casualties. The building’s foyer houses the Armstrong Memorial which was unveiled in 1923 and lists 223 members of the College who lost their lives during the First World War. 

Photograph of the Armstrong building and Quadrangle.

The Armstrong Building takes its name from the local engineer, industrialist and arms manufacturer Sir William Armstrong (1810 –1900) who provided substantial financial and practical support towards the foundation at Newcastle of the Durham College of Physical Science which would ultimately evolve into Newcastle University. The college was renamed as Armstrong College after his death. More recently there has been increased scrutiny of Armstrong’s legacy and there are plans to contextualise him as a historical figure through physical and digital signposting in and around the Armstrong Building, as part of a wider initiative to create an inclusive campus environment. 

Read more about the role played by the Armstrong Building and other parts of the University during both World Wars in this online exhibition.

Learn more about the Armstrong Memorial and a Heritage Lottery -Funded project to conduct research into those listed on it in this digital resource.  


Bettenson, E.M. The University of Newcastle upon Tyne: A Historical Introduction 1834 – 1971 (University of Newcastle Upon Tune, 1974) 

Special Collections Newcastle University (2010) The Armstrong Effect: The Life & Legacy of Lord Armstrong. Available at:

Want to learn more about the history of Newcastle University campus? Why not explore all the articles in our Campus Tour blog series.

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