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Galloway Hydroelectric Power Scheme, Earlstoun Dam

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

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Latitude: 55.1169 / 55°7'0"N

Longitude: -4.174 / 4°10'26"W

OS Eastings: 261442

OS Northings: 582435

OS Grid: NX614824

Mapcode National: GBR 4V.MR9P

Mapcode Global: WH4TX.VNK5

Entry Name: Galloway Hydroelectric Power Scheme, Earlstoun Dam

Listing Date: 11 February 2011

Category: B

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400609

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51697

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; 1936. Roughly U-plan dam in two separate structural sections, one arch and the other gravity type. Reinforced concrete with continuous concrete parapet to walkway. Fixed spillway to left (W) with roadway above supported by narrow profile piers (deeper pier to far left (W) forming gateway to walkway). Concrete wave-wall in front of spillway sweeping around to outflow from roller gates to centre of spillway section. Tower to walkway above gates with shouldered arched openings and winding gear to top. Arched section to right (E) with small tower to centre with valve-house directly beneath to base of dam. Tower supported on paired corbels flanking narrow round arched openings; further corbel to centre supporting advanced window panel with single round arched window to centre.

Statement of Interest

Earlstoun dam is an important component of phase II of the highly influential Galloway Hydroelectric Power Scheme, providing daily storage capacity and flow regulation for Earlstoun power station. The dam combines both gravity and arch sections, with the gravity section providing the necessary abutment for the arched section to the centre. The dam has a fixed spillway for automatic regulation of the level of water and further roller gates to the gravity section. There is also a regulation valve to the arched section. The water is fed out into an aqueduct which takes it to the penstocks above Earlstoun power station (see separate listing). 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 Dam is of a distinctively modern style, with the clean sweeping lines of the wave-wall and the synthesis of features such as corbel brackets to the control tower characterising 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.

(Listed 2011 as part of Hydroelectric Power Thematic Survey)

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