Remember the Hydro Boys

On Thursday this week, the Scottish Parliament will debate a motion from Annabelle Ewing MSP that remembers the contribution of the workers, many displaced persons from post-war Europe, who built our hydro power system.

S4M-10672# Annabelle Ewing: Remembering the Contribution of Those who Built the Dams and Tunnels—That the Parliament notes plans by Scottish and Southern Energy to develop a new state-of-the-art visitor centre at Pitlochry Dam and salmon ladder; recognises the contribution that this and other hydroelectric dams and tunnels throughout Scotland can make as tourist attractions as well as their primary function contributing to Scotland’s renewable electricity generation; respects the contribution made by the men, of many nationalities, who built the dams and tunnels, such as the Lednock “Tunnel Tigers”, who set a world record by tunnelling 557 feet in seven days in 1955 while working on the St Fillans section of the Breadalbane Hydro-Electric scheme; further recognises that this was hard, dangerous work and that a number of men lost their lives and countless others experienced injury or illness that affected them for the rest of their lives; understands that some of the public visitor information boards list several nationalities of workers in the tunnels but make no reference to Irish workers, and looks forward to the new visitor centre properly reflecting the contributions of all of the men who built the dams and tunnels.

When most people remember the building of Scotland’s hydro schemes, they think of the vision of Tom Johnston who got the projects going, despite political and landowner opposition. However, it’s also a story about people, many of whom paid the price with their lives. Emma Wood’s book ‘The Hydro Boys’ tells the story well.

In this debate we should not forget the human sacrifice of those who built the hydro schemes that serve us to this day.



    My father worked at many of the hydro schemes and told me stories about life under ground and in the work camps, many men were killed and many more injured, including my father, after over a year in hospital and over a year learning to walk again he then went back to this work ending up his carreer as shift boss at Foyers. the record for footage stated above was overseen by my dads great fiend and my father was on a different job at the time with a much larger rock face and he came very very close to winning that footage, they took it well between them. I heard stories of fantastic Characters in the tunneling and it is good to see that there is some kind of recognition to the enormous task that was placed on them all.

    • utilitiesscot

      Thanks, another interesting story and as you say good to see them getting some recognition.

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