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TITLE
Opening Day, Storr Lochs Hydro-Electric Station
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_RAMSAY_D893_1_5_031
PLACENAME
Storr Lochs
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Portree
DATE OF IMAGE
31 May 1952
PERIOD
1950s
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
8706
KEYWORDS
Storr Lochs
hydro-electric
Lady Rachel Stuart
Tom Johnston
Lord Macdonald
Dame Flora MacLeod
Opening Day, Storr Lochs Hydro-Electric Station

Lady Rachel Stuart, wife of recently appointed Secretary of State for Scotland, James Stuart, performed the official opening of the Storr Lochs Hydro-Electric scheme on 31st May 1952. To Lady Stuart's left is Tom Johnston, Chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. The hydro-electric schemes in the Highlands were not without critics and Johnston took the opportunity to refute earlier 'ill-informed and completely unjustified comments about the work of the Board'. He reported on the 850 households already connected to the grid, with the number rising to 2500 by the end of 1953. He further referred to the contribution of the Hydro-Electric Board to the national economy, with coal, once used domestically, now available for export sales. The Courier quotes Johnston as saying, ' We are only at the beginning of a mighty co-operative effort in marketing the resources of this country'. With minimal criticism and controversy there is, 'no fear for the future of Scotland or the Highlands and Islands.'

Local dignitaries were on hand for the official opening. Shown in this photograph left front row is Lord Macdonald, Chairman of Skye District Council, who gave the vote of thanks to Tom Johnston. Behind him, draped in tartan is Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod.

The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board received permission to construct a dam and power station at Storr Lochs on the Isle of Skye in 1949. The project combined the waters of Loch Fada and Loch Leathan in the Storr Lochs reservoir, with the generating house below on Bearreraig Bay. Construction began in early 1950, and was commissioned in May 1952. Before this a number of houses in the Broadford area had electricity via underwater cable from Kyle of Lochalsh, sourced at Nostie Bridge power station. In Portree, the Royal Hotel had a small diesel generator which provided some street lighting and a few houses with electricity, while most hotels and some larger houses had their own generators.

The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board was established under the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act 1943. Thomas Johnston presented the Act in the House of Commons, declaring that by harnessing 'the great latent power of the region' it would assist in remedying the ills that affected the Highlands. Johnston told the Commons that 'industries, whether owned nationally or privately, will be and ought to be, attracted to locations in the Highlands, as a result of this measure'.

Ordinary consumers would have priority, then the anticipated large power users, and any surplus energy would be sold to the national grid. Profits from these sales would help reduce distribution costs to more remote areas, and assist in carrying out measures for the economic development and social improvement of the Highlands. This famous social clause gave recognition that the Hydro Board was envisaged as an instrument for the rehabilitation of northern Scotland, not just an organization to provide electricity.


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Opening Day, Storr Lochs Hydro-Electric Station

INVERNESS: Portree

1950s

Storr Lochs; hydro-electric; Lady Rachel Stuart; Tom Johnston; Lord Macdonald; Dame Flora MacLeod

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

William J Ramsay Archive

Lady Rachel Stuart, wife of recently appointed Secretary of State for Scotland, James Stuart, performed the official opening of the Storr Lochs Hydro-Electric scheme on 31st May 1952. To Lady Stuart's left is Tom Johnston, Chairman of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. The hydro-electric schemes in the Highlands were not without critics and Johnston took the opportunity to refute earlier 'ill-informed and completely unjustified comments about the work of the Board'. He reported on the 850 households already connected to the grid, with the number rising to 2500 by the end of 1953. He further referred to the contribution of the Hydro-Electric Board to the national economy, with coal, once used domestically, now available for export sales. The Courier quotes Johnston as saying, ' We are only at the beginning of a mighty co-operative effort in marketing the resources of this country'. With minimal criticism and controversy there is, 'no fear for the future of Scotland or the Highlands and Islands.'<br /> <br /> Local dignitaries were on hand for the official opening. Shown in this photograph left front row is Lord Macdonald, Chairman of Skye District Council, who gave the vote of thanks to Tom Johnston. Behind him, draped in tartan is Dame Flora MacLeod of MacLeod. <br /> <br /> The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board received permission to construct a dam and power station at Storr Lochs on the Isle of Skye in 1949. The project combined the waters of Loch Fada and Loch Leathan in the Storr Lochs reservoir, with the generating house below on Bearreraig Bay. Construction began in early 1950, and was commissioned in May 1952. Before this a number of houses in the Broadford area had electricity via underwater cable from Kyle of Lochalsh, sourced at Nostie Bridge power station. In Portree, the Royal Hotel had a small diesel generator which provided some street lighting and a few houses with electricity, while most hotels and some larger houses had their own generators.<br /> <br /> The North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board was established under the Hydro-Electric Development (Scotland) Act 1943. Thomas Johnston presented the Act in the House of Commons, declaring that by harnessing 'the great latent power of the region' it would assist in remedying the ills that affected the Highlands. Johnston told the Commons that 'industries, whether owned nationally or privately, will be and ought to be, attracted to locations in the Highlands, as a result of this measure'.<br /> <br /> Ordinary consumers would have priority, then the anticipated large power users, and any surplus energy would be sold to the national grid. Profits from these sales would help reduce distribution costs to more remote areas, and assist in carrying out measures for the economic development and social improvement of the Highlands. This famous social clause gave recognition that the Hydro Board was envisaged as an instrument for the rehabilitation of northern Scotland, not just an organization to provide electricity. <br /> <br /> <br /> This image can be purchased.<br /> For further information about purchasing and prices please email<br /> <a href= "mailto: skyeandlochalsh.archives@highlifehighland.com" >Skye and Lochalsh Archives</a>