In science

British Science Week takes place in March each year, and we choose this time to remember some of the great scientists of our time, who heralded from Newcastle, Gateshead and the North East.

Discover the most notable and famous North East scientists below and learn more about NewcastleGateshead’s scientific and engineering history...

Sir Joseph Swan

Joseph Swan

Sir Joseph Swan was born in Bishopwearmouth, Sunderland in 1828 and resided in Low Fell, Gateshead for a number of years. He was a physicist and chemist and is most famous for inventing the incandescent light bulb. His home in Gateshead was the first in the world to be lit by light bulb, and the Lit & Phil in Newcastle was the first public building to be lit.

He also had close ties to Lord Armstrong of Cragside and was one of the early developers of the electric safety lamp for miners, which was revolutionary in the North East where the coal industry was booming.

Peter Higgs

Peter Higgs

Peter Higgs is a theoretical physicist and emeritus professor at the University of Edinburgh. Born in Newcastle upon Tyne in 1929, near Elswick, Higgs is best known for his proposal of broken symmetry in electroweak theory and his contributions to the discovery of the Higgs boson. Of course!

He has won a number of awards in his professional career from the Hughes Medal in 1981 to the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2013.

Thomas Addison

Thomas Addison

Thomas Addison was a renowned 19th-century physician and scientist, born in 1793 in Longbenton, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne.

He is most famous for the discovery of Addison's disease, a degenerative disease of the adrenal glands. He was also credited with a number of other medical discoveries including pernicious anaemia.

Lord Armstrong

Lord Armstrong

Lord Armstrong was an English industrialist, engineer, scientist and inventor, born in Shieldfield, Newcastle in 1810. As one of the most famous people from NewcastleGateshead, Armstong’s influence is seen across the entire North East with his former residence including Jesmond Dene House, Cragside House in Northumberland and Bamburgh Castle on the coast.

Lord Armstrong was president of the British Association for the Advancement of Science and is most famous for developing the hydraulic accumulator, as well as his contributions to modern artillery. He was knighted in 1859 after giving his gun patents to the government.

Rachel Parsons

Rachel Parsons Engineer Newcastle

Rachel Parsons was truly ground-breaking. Born in 1885, Rachel would later become the first woman to study Mechanical Sciences at Cambridge University. Rachel was a pioneer in science and engineering, the director of an engineering business in Tyneside, she helped to train women during the First World War; later founding the Women's Engineering Society. Rachel Parsons was the daughter of engineer Charles Parsons who is best known for inventing the steam turbine and his work designing Turbinia.

Find out more about Rachel Parsons.

Samuel Tolansky

Samuel Tolansky was a British scientist born in Newcastle in 1907 to Lithuanian-born Jewish parents. He was particularly interested in the optics of diamond, which lead to him investigating optical characteristics of moon dust from the Apollo 11 first moon landing. He was awarded the C.V. Boys Prize for contributions to optics in 1948 and was once nominated for the Nobel Prize.

Lewis Fry Richardson

Lewis Fry Richardson

Lewis Richardson was an English mathematician, physicist, meteorologist and pacifist born in Newcastle in 1881. He is famous for pioneering modern mathematical techniques of weather forecasting, as well as work concerning fractals and the modified Richardson iteration.

Charles Merz

Charles Merz was a British electrical engineer who was born in Newcastle in 1874. He is most famous for his use of three-phrase AC power distribution, which he used to build a system in the North East in the early 20-century. This became the model for the country's National Grid. He also designed the electric drive equipment for the TOG 1 tank.

Are there any scientists we may have missed from our list? Do you have any fun facts about the scientists we have mentioned? Tweet us at @altweet_pet!




  1. Dr Bill Cochrane.
    Jeremiah Dixon. Born in Co Durham mother from Newcastle. Joint worker on the Masin Dixon line in the USA

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