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TITLE
Hydro-Electric Showroom in Portree, Isle of Skye
EXTERNAL ID
GB232_RAMSAY_D893_1_15_002A
PLACENAME
Portree
DISTRICT
Skye
OLD COUNTY/PARISH
INVERNESS: Portree
PERIOD
1950s
SOURCE
Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre
ASSET ID
9198
KEYWORDS
hydro-electric
appliances
showroom
Portree
demonstrations
Lady MacDonald
Hydro-Electric Showroom in Portree, Isle of Skye

In his speech at the opening of the Storr Lochs power station in 1952, Tom Johnston noted that already on Skye 850 houses had been wired for electricity, and he anticipated that by the end of 1953 this number would be 2500. With the arrival of electricity on the Isle of Skye, the Hydro-Board set up a showroom in Portree, shown in this photograph, displaying the new appliances available to purchase. Prominent was a wide range of cookers being undoubtedly one of the most popular time-saving appliances available, and also a range of cookware suitable for use on these cookers. Refrigerators were also on display although in early days this would most likely be a great luxury. Smaller items such as kettles, lamps and light fixtures would also be available.

As well as having a showroom, the Hydro Board hosted exhibitions in local halls where appliances big and small would be on display, and demonstrators were on hand to show how to get the most out of these time and labour saving devices. The Clarion, the local Skye based newspaper, tells of one such exhibition held in the Gathering Hall in Portree, where the official opening was done 'in a most charming manner...as a very practical housewife' by Lady MacDonald.

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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Hydro-Electric Showroom in Portree, Isle of Skye

INVERNESS: Portree

1950s

hydro-electric; appliances; showroom; Portree; demonstrations; Lady MacDonald

Skye and Lochalsh Archive Centre

William J Ramsay Archive

In his speech at the opening of the Storr Lochs power station in 1952, Tom Johnston noted that already on Skye 850 houses had been wired for electricity, and he anticipated that by the end of 1953 this number would be 2500. With the arrival of electricity on the Isle of Skye, the Hydro-Board set up a showroom in Portree, shown in this photograph, displaying the new appliances available to purchase. Prominent was a wide range of cookers being undoubtedly one of the most popular time-saving appliances available, and also a range of cookware suitable for use on these cookers. Refrigerators were also on display although in early days this would most likely be a great luxury. Smaller items such as kettles, lamps and light fixtures would also be available.<br /> <br /> As well as having a showroom, the Hydro Board hosted exhibitions in local halls where appliances big and small would be on display, and demonstrators were on hand to show how to get the most out of these time and labour saving devices. The Clarion, the local Skye based newspaper, tells of one such exhibition held in the Gathering Hall in Portree, where the official opening was done 'in a most charming manner...as a very practical housewife' by Lady MacDonald.<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><br />