Listed Building

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Status: Designated


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Date Added
Local Authority
Perth And Kinross
Planning Authority
Perth And Kinross
Blair Atholl
NN 71411 65622
271411, 765622


Probably James Williamson and Partners (engineers to the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board), A and A Carmichael (contractors), 1956. Large diamond-headed buttress dam with access roadway oversailing central spillway and separate intake gatehouse located upstream of dam wall dominating upper Glen Errochty. Shuttered concrete with some reinforced concrete to intake gatehouse. Battered downstream face with deep buttresses, those flanking spillway integrated with spillway walls to base of dam. Large buttress to centre of spillway with small control room and dispersal valve to base; integrated square-plan gatehouse at upper level set on upstream side of dam. Small control room to base of buttress to right (NE) of spillway with pipeway control valve. Parapet to top advanced slightly beyond roadway and integrated with buttresses. Roadway oversailing central spillway on rectangular concrete piers. Similar design to upstream face.

TUNNEL INTAKE GATEHOUSE: set adjacent to upstream face of dam. Tall 2-storey square-plan gatehouse set on podium with vehicular access oversailing water on round concrete columns. Large panelled teak vehicular access doors to S elevation with 3 small windows to attic storey above; similar windows to W and N elevations. Pedestrian doorway to E elevation with louvered vents to left (S) and pair of tall windows above. Small paired windows to attic.

Statement of Special Interest

Errochty Dam is rare for its diamond-headed buttress plan; it is a key component of one of the major post-war hydro electric developments by the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board (NoSHEB) and dominates the landscape of upper Glen Errochty. The scheme expanded an earlier scheme developed in the 1930s (see separate listings for Tummel Bridge and Rannoch power stations) and played an important role in the realisation of the social agenda of NoSHEB. Errochty Dam is a significant feature in the landscape of Glen Errochty dominating the upper reaches of the valley with the buttresses giving the dam the appearance of a citadel wall. It is also a rare example of a diamond-headed buttress dam, the other located at Loch Lednock. In both cases the form was used to provide extra strength to the dam as the two dams are in close proximity to the highland boundary fault and consequently are at risk of damage from earth tremors.

The Tummel Garry hydroelectric scheme was one of a large number of schemes developed in Scotland by the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board (NoSHEB). The scheme played a key role in the realisation of the social agenda of NoSHEB by providing power which could be exported via the grid to the central belt, the profit from which subsidised the provision of power to remote north Highland communities and stimulated economic regeneration. Under the leadership of eminent chairman Sir Tom Johnston the board undertook developments throughout Highland Scotland and his aspirations saw the development of schemes in locations such as Loch Dubh near Ullapool and Storr Lochs on Skye. Johnstone's social aspirations and wider wishes to reinvigorate the economy of the Highlands ensured that schemes in remote areas formed a key part of the NoSHEB development plan.

All of the developments carried out by NoSHEB were subject to parliamentary approval and objections on the grounds of scenic amenity were common. In order to meet these objections the board appointed a panel of architectural advisers which included Reginald Fairlie (1883-1952), James Shearer (1881-1962) and Harold Ogle Tarbolton (1869-1947), appointed in 1943. Initially the role of the panel was to adjudicate on competition entries for designs, but by 1947 it had become one of designers. The panel had little control over the functional form of the buildings, as they left this to engineers, but they did influence the appearance and the style of the designs. The rigid views on the roles of engineers and architects during the design process resulted in the development of a style which can be characterised as vernacular modernism. This style is characteristic of many NoSHEB buildings and is a direct product of the strict role which engineers and architects played in the design process and of the increasing desire to harmonise buildings with the landscape.

The design of Errochty Dam is typical of Williamson's approach, with an innovative solution designed specifically to suit the requirements of a particular site. In the case of Errochty Dam he made an early use of a diamond-headed buttress form to give the dam extra strength to withstand lateral thrusts caused by earth tremors from the nearby Highland Boundary fault. Williamson was a prominent engineer who specialised in the design of dams following his work on the Galloway Hydro Electric scheme (see separate listings) in the 1930s. He acted as one of the chief engineering advisors to NoSHEB and was the lead engineer for a number of schemes until his death in 1953 after which the role passed to Williamson and Partners Ltd.

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



National Archives of Scotland (NAS), Ref: NSE North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board Collection (1943 -1990); NAS, Ref: NSE1 North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board Minutes (1943-1990); NAS, Ref NSE2 North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board Annual Reports (1943-1990); Peter Payne, The Hydro: A Study of the Development of the Major Hydro-Electric Schemes Undertaken by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board, 1988; J Miller, The Dam Builders: Power from the Glens, (2002) pp 42: Scottish Hydro Electric, Power From The Glens, (2000) pp 18; J Gifford, The Buildings of Scotland: Perth and Kinross (2007) pp 741; RCAHMS, D37499 View of Errochty Dam from S, (1956).

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Printed: 22/05/2018 18:18