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TITLE
Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_RAMSAY_D893_1_11_023
PLACENAME
Raasay
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Portree
DATE OF IMAGE
14 March 1956
PERIOD
1950s
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
8994
KEYWORDS
hydro-electric
Storr Lochs
Braes
Raasay
fishing boat
Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On

On the afternoon of 14th March 1956, electricity was switched on for the first time on the Island of Raasay. The official switch-on ceremony took place at Balmeanach, Braes on the Isle of Skye. From the Aird in Braes a 1 1/4 mile long undersea cable carries power to the island from the generating station at Storr Lochs north of Portree. Rockets fired from Raasay marked the arrival of electricity seconds after the switch was pressed.

Following the switch-on and speeches at Braes which were transmitted to Raasay by radio telephone, the assembled dignitaries, locals and guests then travelled over to Raasay. From the shores at Balmeanach they were rowed out to the Eilean a Cheo, a fishing boat owned by Murdo Nicolson and Angus MacDonald, both of Braes. This photograph shows some of the party leaving North Bay, Raasay, being rowed out to meet the boat for the journey back to Skye.

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; Braes; Raasay; fishing boat

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

William J Ramsay Archive

On the afternoon of 14th March 1956, electricity was switched on for the first time on the Island of Raasay. The official switch-on ceremony took place at Balmeanach, Braes on the Isle of Skye. From the Aird in Braes a 1 1/4 mile long undersea cable carries power to the island from the generating station at Storr Lochs north of Portree. Rockets fired from Raasay marked the arrival of electricity seconds after the switch was pressed.<br /> <br /> Following the switch-on and speeches at Braes which were transmitted to Raasay by radio telephone, the assembled dignitaries, locals and guests then travelled over to Raasay. From the shores at Balmeanach they were rowed out to the Eilean a Cheo, a fishing boat owned by Murdo Nicolson and Angus MacDonald, both of Braes. This photograph shows some of the party leaving North Bay, Raasay, being rowed out to meet the boat for the journey back to Skye.<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>