Sir Joseph Swan Centre for Energy Research

About Us

About Us

The overarching focus of our energy research is to address three key challenges to ensure a sustainable future.... "enough, for all, for ever".

The Swan Centre got its name from the famous North East inventor Sir Joseph Swan. Swan was born in Sunderland on 31 October 1828 and is best remembered for inventing the electric light bulb. His house (in Gateshead, England) was the first in the world to be lit by lightbulb.

Like Swan, the focus here at Newcastle University is on finding solutions, not just understanding the problems. Sir Joseph Swan’s electric light bulb was one of history’s great inventions that changed society forever.  Over a century later, the energy research and development still taking place here in the North East has the potential to be just as important.

With more than £40 million in research funding over the last three years, Newcastle University is one of the UK’s leading centres for energy research.

Sir Joseph Swan

‌Swan first demonstrated the light bulb at a lecture in Newcastle on 18 December 1878 and created the first electric light illumination in a public building whilst giving another lecture in 1880. The first public building in the world to be lit entirely by electricity was the Savoy Theatre in London in 1881.

Swan also invented a dry photographic process leading to a huge improvement in photography and progress toward the development of modern photographic film; and he was responsible for developing the cellular lead plate for rechargeable batteries (patented in 1881) - a development which will remain at the heart of transport technologies long after fuel sources change to something 'greener'.

In 1894 Swan was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1904 he was knighted by King Edward VII, awarded the Royal Society's Hughes Medal, and made an honorary member of the Pharmaceutical Society.

Sir Joseph Swan died on 27 May 1914 in Warlingham, Surrey and beyond the centenary of his death, Swan's legacy burns brighter than ever.

Enough Ensuring that there is sufficient energy to meet demand through appropriate and secure resources, and the efficient and resilient conversion, distribution and use of energy.
For all Guaranteeing universal access to affordable energy to meet demand through technological developments and effective policy and governance.
Forever Safeguarding sustainable resources, the natural environment and the health and well-being of all life through environmentally sensitive practices, processes and systems.
Sir Joseph Swan