History in Structure

Cruachan Dam, Ben Cruachan Hydro Electric Scheme

A Category B Listed Building in Oban North and Lorn, Argyll and Bute

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Latitude: 56.4065 / 56°24'23"N

Longitude: -5.1131 / 5°6'47"W

OS Eastings: 208014

OS Northings: 728152

OS Grid: NN080281

Mapcode National: GBR FCRS.GP0

Mapcode Global: WH1HW.F7FK

Plus Code: 9C8PCV4P+HQ

Entry Name: Cruachan Dam, Ben Cruachan Hydro Electric Scheme

Listing Name: Ben Cruachan Hydro Electric Scheme, Cruachan Dam

Listing Date: 11 February 2011

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400598

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51687

Building Class: Cultural

Also known as: Ben Cruachan Hydro Electric Scheme, Cruachan Dam

ID on this website: 200400598

Location: Ardchattan and Muckairn

County: Argyll and Bute

Electoral Ward: Oban North and Lorn

Parish: Ardchattan And Muckairn

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Tagged with: Dam Architectural structure

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James Williamson and Partners; George Rennie (resident engineer for North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board technical panel) 1959-65. Large buttress dam with access roadway oversailing prominent arcaded buttresses; large central buttress containing pipeway inlets and control gates, dominating Cruachan corrie with a mountainous backdrop. Mass concrete, with some reinforced concrete to parapet. Battered downstream face with deep buttresses with rounded headed gaps between. Large buttress to centre. Small fixed spillway to far left (NW) with roadway oversailing on slender piers. Plain parapet to top integrated buttress heads.

Statement of Interest

Cruachan dam forms an A-group with Ben Cruachan power station (see separate listing). Ben Cruachan dam is a fine example of the work of prominent dam designer James Williamson, characteristic of a large suite of dams he designed for major hydro electric power schemes in Scotland. The dam forms an integral part of one of the most innovative hydro electric schemes in Britain and the first example of integrated pumped storage technology. The dam dominates the corrie below Ben Cruachan itself and creates a large reservoir. The development of the scheme was a key component of the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board's (NoSHEB) plans to exploit the natural resources of Highland Scotland to generate electricity.

Cruachan was the penultimate of the major post-war hydro electric developments by the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board (NoSHEB). The scheme played a key role in the realisation of the social agenda of NoSHEB by generating electricity which could be easily exported to the grid (via a connection at Windyhill on the fringe of Glasgow) and sold to the central belt. Revenue from the sale of the power financed the provision of electricity to remote north Highland communities on loss making schemes, and stimulated economic regeneration. Under the leadership of eminent chairman Sir Tom Johnston the board undertook developments throughout highland Scotland with a balance of social and economic schemes. This commitment saw the development of schemes in locations such as Loch Dubh near Ullapool and Storr Lochs on Skye.

The design of Cruachan Dam is typical of Williamson and Partners approach and uses buttress technology which was pioneered by James Williamson at Sloy Dam (see separate listing). The scale and degree of innovation behind the plans for Cruachan is characteristic of the skill of the firm and their long experience with hydro power and commitment to developing Scotland's resources for hydro electric power. Williamson had specialised in the design of dams following his work on the Galloway Hydro Electric scheme (see separate listings) in the 1930s. He acted as one of the chief engineering advisors to NoSHEB and was the lead engineer for a number of schemes before his death in 1953. After this date the company of James Williamson and Partners continued to be closely involved in the work of NoSHEB and were the lead team of engineers on a number of schemes, including Cruachan.

(Listed 2011 as part of Hydroelectric Power Thematic Survey)

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