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Falls of Clyde, Bonnington Power Station with Tank and Pipes

A Category A Listed Building in Lanark, South Lanarkshire

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Latitude: 55.6557 / 55°39'20"N

Longitude: -3.7753 / 3°46'30"W

OS Eastings: 288398

OS Northings: 641665

OS Grid: NS883416

Mapcode National: GBR 2321.GF

Mapcode Global: WH5SQ.Z3FM

Entry Name: Falls of Clyde, Bonnington Power Station with Tank and Pipes

Listing Date: 3 March 2011

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400636

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51727

Building Class: Cultural

Location: Lanark

County: South Lanarkshire

Electoral Ward: Clydesdale North

Parish: Lanark

Traditional County: Lanarkshire

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1925-27. Scheme designed by Sir Edward MacColl with advice from Amenity Committee consisting of the Earl of Home, Sir John Stirling of Maxwell of Pollok and Sir Robert Lorimer, architect; plans and specifications by Messrs Buchan & Partners, engineers; Sir William Arrol & Co. civil engineering contractors; the English Electric Co. hydro-electric plant. Striking strong classical group of 3 white-rendered clearly articulated adjoining blocks comprising: large 2-storey, 7-bay, roughly rectangular-plan, flat-roofed turbine room with round-arched windows to principal floor recessed between pilasters, and small square-headed windows to ground and attic floors; smaller 2-storey, 3-bay, rectangular-plan, flat-roofed switch house block stepped forward at N end of E elevation of turbine room; pitched roofed attendant's house at right angles to turbine house block at S. Regular fenestration to turbine room.

Small-pane glazing to turbine room and switch house block; non-traditional aluminium windows to attendant's house. Reinforced concrete roofs to turbine room and switch house; grey slate roof to house.

INTERIOR: some original early 20th century features still in place including new generators which stand over the original turbines, each by the English Electric Co Ltd. 2 original Francis turbines generating 11,000 KW. Terracotta floor tiles. 1920s shell light shades over some of the dials. Original bank of switch gear preserved in situ on balcony over the new computerised system.

TANK AND PIPES: circular white-rendered concrete surge tank located above Bonnington Pavilion; 2 tall concrete surge shafts slightly down hill. 2 riveted, green steel pipes, 6' 6" in diameter connect the tank to power station.

Statement of Interest

Bonnington Power Station is historically of considerable importance as the first large-scale hydro-electric scheme for public power supply in Britain. Hydro-electric schemes had been used previously by the British Aluminium Company for powering factories at Foyers and Kinlochleven in the 1890s and 1900s, and a small plant at Inverness had been operational from about the same time, but hydro- power had never before been used on this scale. The success of the Clyde scheme was to encourage investment in the Tummel scheme of 1930 and Galloway scheme of 1936. The design of the Bonnington and Stonebyres (which is very similar to Bonnington and completed just a year later) arguably influenced the stations in the Tummel and Galloway schemes, particularly at Tummel where Sir Matthew Ochterlony was a member of the Advisory Committee. The design at Tummel bears a striking resemblance to that at Bonnington, for example in the simple white cubic forms of the buildings and the robust classical details.

Bonnington Power Station is also a very significant feature in the landscape just N of the Corra Linn Falls. As the surroundings at Bonnington were recognised to be of exceptional natural beauty, attention was paid to sympathetic design. The turbine hall with its simple classical detailing dominates the composition. It is not clear who was responsible for the design details but elements, for example in the rhythm of the round-headed windows and dividing pilasters are reminiscent of the work by Sir Robert Lorimer in the early 1920s and very likely indicate his hand in the design details. The use of round-headed windows was standard in pre-World War II power stations.

An Act of Parliament was required to sanction the development of Bonnington and Stonebyres stations and the associated works. During 1924 objections were raised to the proposed scheme by the Gourock Rope Company who owned the mills at New Lanark in the 1920s as they felt the works might interfere with the water supply need to operate the mills. However these were overcome and the design went ahead as planned.

(Listed 2011 as part of Hydro Electric Power Thematic Study)

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