Pitlochry memorial to pay tribute to ‘hydro boys’

Carron Dam near Falkirk. A tribute to thousands who helped built Scotland's dams and tunnels will be built in Pitlochry. Picture: John Devlin
Carron Dam near Falkirk. A tribute to thousands who helped built Scotland's dams and tunnels will be built in Pitlochry. Picture: John Devlin
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A “fitting memorial” to the thousands of people who built dams and tunnels in Scotland’s hydro-electric power network will form part of a new visitor centre in Pitlochry.

This will include recognition for the many Irish workers among the so-called “hydro boys”, whose role was omitted from previous tributes.

The move by Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE), which runs most of the system, was welcomed by MSPs, who yesterday added their voices to calls for a proper commemoration.

It came as new figures showed hydro-power generation increased by 50 per cent in the first half of this year compared to a year ago.

SSE said it was developing detailed plans for the £3 million centre and would make a “final investment decision” next summer, having received planning permission a year ago.

Gillian O’Reilly, its head of heritage and community programmes, said: “We are enormously proud of our hydro heritage and have recently undertaken a project to understand and share the amazing stories of people and engineering feats that provided power – often to many remote areas – throughout Scotland.

“Our plans for a new visitor centre in Pitlochry will provide a fitting memorial to those who worked on the projects and we will continue to work with local historians, stakeholders and colleagues to determine the best way to do this.”

The centre would replace one which charted the postwar history of hydro power in Scotland, and contained a viewing chamber for watching fish use a salmon ladder to ascend the dam.

It is expected to double visitor numbers to 100,000 a year.

Mid Scotland and Fife SNP MSP Annabelle Ewing said: “Concerns have been raised with me that there are gaps in the recognition of Irish workers.”

She said there was a need “to bring to wider attention those hardy men, and the sacrifice of those who gave their health or even their lives”.

She said workers had included the Lednock “tunnel tigers” who set a world record by tunnelling 557ft in a week in 1955 in the St Fillans section.