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TITLE
Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_RAMSAY_D893_1_11_020
PLACENAME
Braes
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Portree
DATE OF IMAGE
14 March 1956
PERIOD
1950s
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
8988
KEYWORDS
hydro-electric
Storr Lochs
Raasay
Braes
electricity
power station
Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On

On the 14th March 1956, a group of locals, dignitaries and North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board officials assembled at Balmeanach, Braes on the Isle of Skye to start the celebrations for the arrival of electricity on the Island of Raasay. The power was supplied from the Storr Lochs generating station, via a 1 1/4 mile long underwater cable, leaving Skye at the Aird, Braes landing at Suisinish on Raasay. The switch-on was performed by Major General Harry Macdonald, proprietor of the Braes Estate. Seconds after the switch-on, two large rockets were fired from Raasay to signal the arrival of electricity.

Sir Hugh MacKenzie, Inverness, the Hydro Board's Deputy Chairman gave a short speech, saying he was sure the arrival of electricity on Raasay would bring great benefit to the island's tourism and agriculture industries, and help to stop the depopulation of the island. He noted the cost of bringing electricity to Raasay as being £28,000 which included the submarine cable costing £6,000. Some ten miles of overhead cables had been installed to supply the approximately 110 customers, with 75% already agreeing to take the supply.

Major General Macdonald (white haired man standing in this photograph) in a short speech profusely thanked the Hydro Board, stating they had spent more money in bringing electricity to Raasay than they would ever hope to recover. As thanks for performing the official switch-on, Major Macdonald was presented with an electric kettle. This was done by Torquil Nicolson (at the microphone), Hydro Board Area Manager for Skye and Lochalsh. In his presentation speech, Mr Nicolson noted that great poetry, music, songs and men had come from Raasay in the past. If all these had arrived without electricity, what better things could the island look forward to now?

Mr Archibald MacPherson, county councillor for Raasay added his praise for the Board, noting the benefits to agriculture that the arrival of electricity would provide. All speeches were relayed to the people of Raasay by radio telephone. Following the ceremonies at Braes, the official party went to Raasay by fishing boat, where they met with local people, and attended an exhibition of electrical appliances displayed by the Board.

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.

The output from the power station at Loch Sloy, west of Loch Lomond, was intended to meet the demand for central and western Scotland. The surplus energy produced here would be used to subsidise the Morar and Lochalsh projects, it being unlikely these smaller schemes could pay their way. The cost of construction of these three projects was estimated at £4,600,000


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Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On

INVERNESS: Portree

1950s

hydro-electric; Storr Lochs; Raasay; Braes; electricity; power station

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

William J Ramsay Archive

On the 14th March 1956, a group of locals, dignitaries and North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board officials assembled at Balmeanach, Braes on the Isle of Skye to start the celebrations for the arrival of electricity on the Island of Raasay. The power was supplied from the Storr Lochs generating station, via a 1 1/4 mile long underwater cable, leaving Skye at the Aird, Braes landing at Suisinish on Raasay. The switch-on was performed by Major General Harry Macdonald, proprietor of the Braes Estate. Seconds after the switch-on, two large rockets were fired from Raasay to signal the arrival of electricity.<br /> <br /> Sir Hugh MacKenzie, Inverness, the Hydro Board's Deputy Chairman gave a short speech, saying he was sure the arrival of electricity on Raasay would bring great benefit to the island's tourism and agriculture industries, and help to stop the depopulation of the island. He noted the cost of bringing electricity to Raasay as being £28,000 which included the submarine cable costing £6,000. Some ten miles of overhead cables had been installed to supply the approximately 110 customers, with 75% already agreeing to take the supply.<br /> <br /> Major General Macdonald (white haired man standing in this photograph) in a short speech profusely thanked the Hydro Board, stating they had spent more money in bringing electricity to Raasay than they would ever hope to recover. As thanks for performing the official switch-on, Major Macdonald was presented with an electric kettle. This was done by Torquil Nicolson (at the microphone), Hydro Board Area Manager for Skye and Lochalsh. In his presentation speech, Mr Nicolson noted that great poetry, music, songs and men had come from Raasay in the past. If all these had arrived without electricity, what better things could the island look forward to now? <br /> <br /> Mr Archibald MacPherson, county councillor for Raasay added his praise for the Board, noting the benefits to agriculture that the arrival of electricity would provide. All speeches were relayed to the people of Raasay by radio telephone. Following the ceremonies at Braes, the official party went to Raasay by fishing boat, where they met with local people, and attended an exhibition of electrical appliances displayed by the Board.<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 /> The output from the power station at Loch Sloy, west of Loch Lomond, was intended to meet the demand for central and western Scotland. The surplus energy produced here would be used to subsidise the Morar and Lochalsh projects, it being unlikely these smaller schemes could pay their way. The cost of construction of these three projects was estimated at £4,600,000 <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>