FOOTBALL and fishing proved a lure for World Cup winner Jack Charlton yesterday as he opened an exhibition on inventions.
The month-long display is at the National Trust’s Cragside mansion near Rothbury in Northumberland, which was the home of Victorian inventor and industrialist Lord Armstrong.
The Palace of the Modern Magician exhibition takes its title from a contemporary description of Lord Armstrong’s home, which featured a range of his inventions.
The first house to be lit by hydro-electricity, it also boasted a Turkish bath suite, hot and cold running water, a passenger lift to the bedrooms, central heating, telephones, and labour-saving devices in the kitchen including a mechanised spit and a primitive dishwasher.
On show are Victorian creations alongside their modern day counterparts.
They include a Hardy “Perfect” fishing reel from 1891. Made by the Alnwick-based fishing tackle manufacturer and retailer, it is now regarded as one of the finest fly-fishing reels ever made and has become a classic design.
Visitors will be able to compare it to a modern Hardy “Angel” reel which has evolved using the same basic principles as the Perfect.
The reels drew Jack Charlton’s attention as did a Victorian football, a 19th-Century football kit complete with knee-length shorts and heavy steel toe-capped leather boots, displayed alongside modern-day lightweight Rothbury FC strips brought along by team members Craig Sutton and Richard Hooks.
A Victorian dress and bustle is compared to a smocked coat creation by Northumbria University fashion student Harriet Ferris.
Other inventions and their modern versions include an 1858 tin opener, 1851 sewing machine, a Penny Black stamp from a private Rothbury collector, Penny Farthing cycle and a modern mountain bike.
Kate Hunter, Cragside’s events manager, said: “If Cragside can be regarded as the place where modern domestic living began, then the 19th-Century creations that will be on display in the house alongside their contemporary counterparts can be seen as the things which have shaped our leisure, work and social lifestyles. If the same exhibition was to be staged in 50 or 100 years time it would be interesting to see how items like the mobile phone will have evolved.”
Katherine Williamson, Cragside house steward, said: “Lord Armstrong was one of the great innovators of his day. He was the ultimate 19th-Century gadget man, and had he been alive today I believe he would have been at the forefront of the technological revolution that has taken place over the past 40 years, and which has shaped and changed out of recognition all our lives in much the same way as many of the inventions of the Victorian age did.”
Jack Charlton said he had visited Cragside between 15 and 20 times over the last 30 years, despite being out of the region for long periods due to his football commitments.