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TITLE
Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_RAMSAY_D893_1_11_022
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
8992
KEYWORDS
hydro-electric
Storr Lochs
Raasay
Braes
electricity
power statio
fishing boat
Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On

On the 14th March 1956 a group of dignitaries, guests and locals assembled at Balmeanach, Braes on the Isle of Skye to mark the switch-on of power providing the Island of Raasay with electricity. The electricity, powered from the generating station at Storr Lochs, was supplied via a 1 1/4 mile long underwater cable from the Aird in Braes to Suisinish on Raasay. Rockets were fired from Raasay just seconds after the switch-on at Braes, to announce the arrival of electricity. After suitable speeches in Braes, the party went over to Raasay where the Hydro Board presented a display of electrical appliances and a cookery demonstration.

This photograph shows some of the people who made the trip that afternoon. In the foreground is Isobel Nicolson, wife of the Hydro Board's Area Manager for Skye and Lochalsh, Torquil Nicolson. The boat they travelled on was Eilean a Cheo, a Broadford registered fishing boat belonging to Murdo Nicolson and Angus MacDonald of Braes. The group arrived back in Braes at 5 pm that evening.

Inverness-shire MP Neil MacLean lobbied the Board to reduce the minimum guaranteed charges for the residents of Raasay. The Board had set a figure of £3 per room, with a minimum of £9 annually per household. A group of residents met with Mr MacLean and pointed out that since many houses only had two rooms this was an excessive amount. After negotiations, the Board agreed to make an exception in the case of Raasay, and restricted the annual guarantee to £6.

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 statio; fishing boat

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

William J Ramsay Archive

On the 14th March 1956 a group of dignitaries, guests and locals assembled at Balmeanach, Braes on the Isle of Skye to mark the switch-on of power providing the Island of Raasay with electricity. The electricity, powered from the generating station at Storr Lochs, was supplied via a 1 1/4 mile long underwater cable from the Aird in Braes to Suisinish on Raasay. Rockets were fired from Raasay just seconds after the switch-on at Braes, to announce the arrival of electricity. After suitable speeches in Braes, the party went over to Raasay where the Hydro Board presented a display of electrical appliances and a cookery demonstration.<br /> <br /> This photograph shows some of the people who made the trip that afternoon. In the foreground is Isobel Nicolson, wife of the Hydro Board's Area Manager for Skye and Lochalsh, Torquil Nicolson. The boat they travelled on was Eilean a Cheo, a Broadford registered fishing boat belonging to Murdo Nicolson and Angus MacDonald of Braes. The group arrived back in Braes at 5 pm that evening.<br /> <br /> Inverness-shire MP Neil MacLean lobbied the Board to reduce the minimum guaranteed charges for the residents of Raasay. The Board had set a figure of £3 per room, with a minimum of £9 annually per household. A group of residents met with Mr MacLean and pointed out that since many houses only had two rooms this was an excessive amount. After negotiations, the Board agreed to make an exception in the case of Raasay, and restricted the annual guarantee to £6.<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>