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Loch Doon Dam, Galloway Hydro Electric Power Scheme

A Category C Listed Building in Dalmellington, East Ayrshire

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Latitude: 55.2834 / 55°17'0"N

Longitude: -4.399 / 4°23'56"W

OS Eastings: 247730

OS Northings: 601430

OS Grid: NS477014

Mapcode National: GBR 4L.97FC

Mapcode Global: WH3RX.DGGJ

Plus Code: 9C7Q7JM2+99

Entry Name: Loch Doon Dam, Galloway Hydro Electric Power Scheme

Listing Name: Galloway Hydro Electric Power Scheme, Loch Doon Dam

Listing Date: 11 February 2011

Category: C

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400625

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51711

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Dalmellington

County: East Ayrshire

Electoral Ward: Doon Valley

Parish: Dalmellington

Traditional County: Ayrshire

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James Williamson with Sir Alexander Gibb consulting engineers; Merz and McLellan, electrical engineers; 1936. Long shallow curved-section concrete arch and gravity dam with elevated roadway to crest on arcade of shouldered arches over fixed spillway to right (N) and ensuite with stepped eaves course to left (S); octagonal fish ladder to upstream (E) face. Concrete parapet to roadway, with evenly spaced larger piers forming buttress to upstream (E) face. Control room to upstream face on corbelled brackets with single round headed window to centre. Octagonal fish ladder to centre with concrete outer shell and continuous spiral of sequential octagonal pools to interior. Large fixed spillway to downstream (W) face with curved concrete wave-walls.

Statement of Interest

Loch Doon dam is prominently sited at the northern end of Loch Doon with the road to the west side of the loch crossing the top on a raised roadway and with highly unusual octagonal fish ladder. The dam is an important component of phase II of the highly influential Galloway scheme, and provides some seasonal storage for the scheme as a whole. The dam prevents water leaving the loch to flow NW into East Ayrshire, diverting it back over the watershed into the Galloway catchment. The spiral fish ladder composed of a number of sequential octagonal chambers is of extremely unusual design and is possibly unique. The custom design of components like the octagonal fish ladder to overcome specific problems is characteristic of the scheme which was a pioneering development for its date.

The curved plan-form of the dam is part of a striking Classical Modern design and is echoed in the curved top to the spillway and sweeping curves of wave-walls. The strong modern appearance of the dam clearly ties it stylistically and functionally to the rest of the scheme. The design is a clear synthesis between functional and aesthetic concerns and is characteristic of the view of hydroelectricity in this period as a modern and dynamic industry.

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 schemes 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 the British Aluminium Company) 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 powerhouses 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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