History in Structure

Valve-House. Excluding Aqueduct To East And Pipes To West, Kinlochleven Hydroelectric Scheme And Former Aluminium Smelter

A Category A Listed Building in Fort William and Ardnamurchan, Highland

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Latitude: 56.7012 / 56°42'4"N

Longitude: -4.9388 / 4°56'19"W

OS Eastings: 220172

OS Northings: 760470

OS Grid: NN201604

Mapcode National: GBR GC50.BJ1

Mapcode Global: WH2HK.3TGM

Plus Code: 9C8QP326+FF

Entry Name: Valve-House. Excluding Aqueduct To East And Pipes To West, Kinlochleven Hydroelectric Scheme And Former Aluminium Smelter

Listing Name: Kinlochleven Hydroelectric Scheme and Former Aluminium Smelter, Valve-House. Excluding Aqueduct to East and Pipes to West

Listing Date: 14 November 2011

Category: A

Source: Historic Scotland

Source ID: 400783

Historic Scotland Designation Reference: LB51834

Building Class: Cultural

ID on this website: 200400783

Location: Lismore and Appin

County: Highland

Electoral Ward: Fort William and Ardnamurchan

Parish: Lismore And Appin

Traditional County: Argyllshire

Tagged with: Cultural heritage ensemble

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A Alban, H Scott, architect and supervising engineer, W M Morrison, General Manager, 1905-1909. Roughly 4-bay single-storey pitched-roof valve-house with granite rubble facings and reinforced concrete frame. Part of large high-head hydro-electric scheme which supplied electricity to aluminium smelter adjacent to powerhouse (demolished 2002). S elevation with bi-partite windows to the centre flanked by single rectangular windows to outer bays, all in raised banded margins. Blank gable ends. Fixed spillway and catchment pool adjacent to S and E elevations.

Pitched corrugated aluminium roof with single coped stack to left (W) with clay can.

Statement of Interest

This valve-house is prominently sited near the West Highland Way and is one of the last remaining buildings, along with the powerhouse (see separate listing), of the former Kinlochleven Aluminium smelter. The scheme was of international significance on its completion in 1909 with a generating capacity which remained unsurpassed until the Lochaber scheme over twenty years later. The valve-house receives water from the aqueduct to the E which conveys water from the reservoir created by the Blackwater Dam (see separate listing). On entering the valve-house the water is split into six penstocks which lead downhill to the powerhouse (see separate listing).

The simple architectural treatment of the building in a rubble faced style is similar to the design of the powerhouse (see separate listing) and reinforces the functional link between the two buildings. The overall design of the scheme characterises the dynamic modern view of hydropower in this period.

The Kinlochleven hydropower scheme was a significant advance in scale over the first development at Foyers, and represented a highly important civil engineering achievement, recognised internationally, on its completion in 1909. The total UK output for aluminium at this time was 2,500 tonnes, less than a third of the capacity of the Kinlochleven scheme. The scheme ceased to produce aluminium in 2000, but the powerhouse has been maintained in use providing power to the nearby Lochaber Smelter (see separate listings), with some of the turbines renewed in the early 21st century.

The development of the Kinlochleven 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, in this case as a direct requirement for the production of aluminium. 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 highly unusual as is the consistency of high quality aesthetic and engineering design across all of the schemes.

Some alterations have been made to the valve house including the addition of later aluminium screens to protect the inlets from debris.

EXCLUSIONS: the aqueduct conveying water from the Blackwater Dam (see separate listing) to the settling pond and pipes conveying water from the valve-house to the powerhouse (see separate listing) are excluded from this listing.

(Reviewed as part of Hydroelectric Power Thematic Survey 2010)

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