Clement Stephenson was born in Newcastle in 1835 and trained in veterinary science before becoming a local authority veterinary inspector in 1866, one of the first in the country. His deep interest in veterinary science began in youth when working alongside his father, proprietor of a veterinary practice in Newcastle’s Bigg Market.
Clement was one of the leading authorities on how diseases spread among livestock. After a devastating series of outbreaks of disease among cattle in the mid-1860s, his expertise in prevention came to be widely acknowledged. The value of establishing minimum standards to be licensed as a veterinary surgeon, a cause he championed, was finally acknowledged.
Attempts to establish a school of agriculture for the North East began in the later nineteenth century in recognition of the scientific foundations of good agricultural practice. What was needed was a suitably equipped building and well-qualified researchers who could instruct future agricultural business owners and managers. This was the vision Clement Stephenson had when he provided half the capital, £11,000 in 1914 (approximately £900,000 in today’s money) to create a school of agriculture at Armstrong College in Newcastle. His imagination and contribution were remembered in 2016 on the 125th anniversary of the Newcastle School of Agriculture. His original portrait by the Bamburgh artist John Charlton was restored and remounted outside the Clement Stephenson Lecture Theatre.