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TITLE
Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_RAMSAY_D893_1_11_027
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
9002
KEYWORDS
hydro-electric
Storr Lochs
Island of Raasay
Braes
Borodale House
hotel
Isle of Raasay Hydro-Electric Switch-On

On 14th March 1956, electricity was first made available to the 110 or so potential customers of the Island of Raasay. The celebrations began in Balmeanach, Baes on the Isle of Skye, near where the undersea cable ran from the Aird, to Suishnish on Raasay. Major General Harry Macdonald, proprietor of Braes, pressed the switch, and seconds later, rockets fired over Raasay, signalling the arrival of electricity.

Following speeches by County Councillor, Archibald MacPherson, Sir Hugh MacKenzie, the Hydro Board's Deputy Chairman, and the Board's Area Manager, Torquil Nicolson they and other guests and locals went over to Raasay. They travelled on local fishing boat, Eilean A Cheo, and landed at North Bay. From there, the guests went to Borodale House where a display of electrical appliances and a cookery demonstration was hosted by the Hydro Board.

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.

This photograph shows some of the guests waiting to going in to Borodale House. This house built in the 1870s was originally used as the estate managers residence, and later a guest house. In the early 1980's the Highlands and Islands Development Board spent up to 3/4 of a million pounds refurbishing the house, and adding 15 new bedrooms, in a project to develop the tourism on the island. It was then known as the Isle of Raasay Hotel, and recently has reverted to the original name of Borodale House.

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; Island of Raasay; Braes; Borodale House; hotel

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

William J Ramsay Archive

On 14th March 1956, electricity was first made available to the 110 or so potential customers of the Island of Raasay. The celebrations began in Balmeanach, Baes on the Isle of Skye, near where the undersea cable ran from the Aird, to Suishnish on Raasay. Major General Harry Macdonald, proprietor of Braes, pressed the switch, and seconds later, rockets fired over Raasay, signalling the arrival of electricity.<br /> <br /> Following speeches by County Councillor, Archibald MacPherson, Sir Hugh MacKenzie, the Hydro Board's Deputy Chairman, and the Board's Area Manager, Torquil Nicolson they and other guests and locals went over to Raasay. They travelled on local fishing boat, Eilean A Cheo, and landed at North Bay. From there, the guests went to Borodale House where a display of electrical appliances and a cookery demonstration was hosted by the Hydro Board.<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 /> This photograph shows some of the guests waiting to going in to Borodale House. This house built in the 1870s was originally used as the estate managers residence, and later a guest house. In the early 1980's the Highlands and Islands Development Board spent up to 3/4 of a million pounds refurbishing the house, and adding 15 new bedrooms, in a project to develop the tourism on the island. It was then known as the Isle of Raasay Hotel, and recently has reverted to the original name of Borodale House.<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>