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Galloway Hydroelectric Power Scheme, Earlstoun Power Station

A Category B Listed Building in Dee and Glenkens, Dumfries and Galloway

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Latitude: 55.1117 / 55°6'42"N

Longitude: -4.174 / 4°10'26"W

OS Eastings: 261423

OS Northings: 581855

OS Grid: NX614818

Mapcode National: GBR 4V.N595

Mapcode Global: WH4TX.VSK6

Entry Name: Galloway Hydroelectric Power Scheme, Earlstoun Power Station

Listing Date: 23 April 1990

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 342028

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB9725

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Kells

County: Dumfries and Galloway

Electoral Ward: Dee and Glenkens

Parish: Kells

Traditional County: Kirkcudbrightshire

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Sir Alexander Gibb consulting engineer; Merz and McLellan Electrical engineers; E M Carmichael, Office of Public Works; dated 1936. Symmetrical 2-storey, 6-bay rectangular-plan Classical Modern power station with lower terminal bay to right (NE). Painted reinforced concrete. Full height pilasters with recessed parapet above. Slightly advanced door surround with large vehicular opening and steel shutter. Inscribed above: THE GALLOWAY WATER POWER SCHEME, EARLSTOUN POWER STATION, 1936. Large full-height rectangular multi-pane windows; regular fenestration to lower block with pedestrian doors at ground floor.

Multi-pane glazing in metal frame windows. Flat platform roof behind parapet with integrated cast-iron rainwater goods.

INTERIOR: plain interior with large roller crane on steel girders supported by corniced concrete piers. Engineered steel roof trusses.

Statement of Interest

Earlstoun power station is a significant example of a hydroelectric power station and was an important part of phase II of the highly influential Galloway Hydropower Scheme. It is prominently sited adjacent to the A762 road and B listed Allangibbon bridge. The power station comprise two turbines with water from the nearby Earlstoun reservoir conducted by aqueduct to the penstocks behind the station. The Galloway scheme was a significant technological achievement and the first example of run of the river technology to be successfully utilised on a large scale in Scotland. The Galloway scheme was a significant technological achievement and the first example of run of the river technology to be successfully utilised on a large scale in Scotland.

The architectural design of Earlstoun combines the necessary engineering requirements of a large commercial power station and an understated Modernist classical design. The clean lines and minimal architectural articulation are characteristic of the modern style. The stark roofline and rhythmic articulation of the fa├žade characterise the modern, dynamic attitude with which hydroelectricity was viewed in this period.

The development of the Galloway Hydroelectric Scheme predates the 1943 Hydroelectric (Scotland) Act which formalised the development of Hydroelectricity in Scotland and led to the founding of the North of Scotland Hydroelectric Board. Those developments which predated the 1943 act were developed by individual companies as a response to particular market and topographic conditions. The completion of a number of schemes (including Galloway, Grampian and those associated with Alcan (see separate listings) without a national strategic policy framework is groundbreaking as is the consistency of high quality aesthetic and engineering design across all of the schemes.

The Galloway scheme was influential on the future development of hydropower in Scotland. After initial opposition to the parliamentary act granting powers for the completion of the scheme it was approved with a number of safeguards on the landscape and amenity of the area. This necessitated the high quality design of both power stations and dams which characterises the Galloway scheme. This condition also proved influential during the drafting of the Hydroelectric (Scotland) Act of 1943 where the visual impact of future schemes was a primary concern.

Sir Alexander Gibb and Partners was a pioneering engineering company, responsible for a number of high profile works in Scotland, including the Kincardine Bridge (see separate listing). The company was founded by Alexander Gibb in 1921 and quickly became the UK's largest firm of consulting engineers with numerous international clients. Gibb was personally involved in the design and construction of the Galloway scheme, and the pioneering nature of the Galloway development is due, in large part, to his abilities as an engineer. Merz and McLellan were pioneering British electrical engineers and developed a high profile practice, working on a number of power stations across Britain, including Dunstan B, as well as completing hydroelectric work in Italy in the 1980s.

(Reviewed as part of Hydroelectric Power Thematic Survey, 2011)

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