George E. Henderson by Cowan Dobson,
George E. Henderson by Cowan Dobson, Photo Credit: Newcastle University

Henderson made several donations to the Durham College of Science, one of two constituent colleges of King’s College, which would later become Newcastle University. His first donation was made in 1891 to establish a chair of engineering and equip laboratories. This was as much personally to support Professor Robert Weighton, who within the region was held in high regard, as it was to support the School of Engineering. Henderson’s later gift to King’s College was of an altogether higher order. Henderson Hall, commissioned in 1929 and completed in 1932, was gifted to Newcastle University to provide a residential retreat for students away from the town centre at a cost of £300,000. It is widely regarded as a fine example of traditional style interwar architecture by one of the best architects of the period, Arnold Dunbar Smith. The fine pavilion on the adjacent Cochrane Park Sports field in Heaton was also paid for by Henderson.

Henderson’s donations to the Laing Art Gallery began in 1905 with the watercolour painting by Dame Laura Knight ‘A Cornfield in Holland. This was shortly followed in 1906 with the John Wright Oakes oil painting of Loch Muick. He made several large donations to the gallery beginning with a collection of 36 Josiah Wedgewood and Son’s ceramics in 1914 and 67 paintings in 1934.

In 1937 Henderson left to the Laing in his will the remainder of his personal collection. Between 1937 and 1949 as his final wishes were executed, 117 pieces were given to the Art Gallery. When C. Bernard Stevenson, curator of the Laing from 1904-1923, was asked in 1954 about donations made to the Gallery, he replied that Henderson’s watercolour paintings remained one of the most important collections ever presented.

The items have usually been on display ever since and feature beautiful panoramic paintings of Newcastle and the Northumbrian coast.


Contact with Laia Anguix (Northumbria University/ Laing Art Gallery): Spreadsheet of bequeathed items.

Portrait of George E. Henderson by Cowan Dobson (1894-1980), Available here (Accessed: 12/07/2018).

Thompson, F.M.L. (2001). Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture: Britain 1780-1980, Oxford: Oxford University Press, pp. 180.