MHG33837 - Kinlochleven, Power House


Kinlochleven Power station, part of a large hydro-electric power scheme at Kinlochleven. Supplied power to the adjacent Aluminium Smelter, which closed in 2000.

Type and Period (1)

  • POWER STATION (Modern - 1901 AD to 2100 AD)

Protected Status

Full Description

A Alban, H Scott, architect and supervising engineer and WM Morrison, General Manager. Long, single-storey building with granite rubble facings and reinforced concrete frame to Coignet system. Part of large high-head hydro-electric scheme which supplied electricity to the once adjacent aluminium smelter, Kinlochleven works, 1905-1909. Contractors McLaughlin and Harvey, Belfast.

NE elevation of 17 buttressed bays each containing tall tripartite windows.

Large opening in NW gable with metal roller door, 2 tripartite windows to right with small narrow door, circular window in pedimented gable. Tail race and pipes with control valves run alongside NE elevation. SW elevation adjoined demolished cell room. Pitched Ballachulish slate roof with glazed ridge vents to NE and long rooflight.

INTERIOR: originally 11, now 6, pairs of Pelton turbines by Escher Wyss (Zurich), each coupled to two 1,000 KW DC generators (by Dick Kerr & Co), also 2 AC generators driven by turbines for auxiliary power. Travelling crane on steel buttresses, steel lattice roof trusses. Red Cheshire tiled floor, off-centre track (former wagon rail), 21 splayed windows with metal astragals, painted and plastered interior brick walls. <1>

The power house, with a dramatic long perspective of 10 pelton wheel turbines by Escherwyss of Zurich and an 11 th of similar design, is still in situ and, as such, almost unique. The water supply was fed by the Blackwater Reservoir four miles away, its mass concrete dam by engineers Thomas Meik & Sons, 1904-9, 1 km wide - the largest in Europe at that time. <2>

In 1994 Alcan Smelting and Power UK Ltd, the smelter’s current operators, indicated that the smelter would close towards the end of the century (it subsequently close in 2000). However, the power station would continue to generate electricity, supplying the Lochaber smelter and selling surplus to the national grid. <3>

Sources/Archives (3)



Grid reference Centred NN 1905 6181 (134m by 130m) (2 map features)
Map sheet NN16SE
Geographical Area LOCHABER

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