Listed Building

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FALLS OF CLYDE, BONNINGTON POWER STATION WEIR AND BRIDGELB51728

Status: Designated

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Summary

Category
A
Date Added
03/03/2011
Local Authority
South Lanarkshire
Planning Authority
South Lanarkshire
Parish
Lanark
NGR
NS 85507 44025
Coordinates
285507, 644025

Description

Sir Edward MacColl with advice from Amenity Committee consisting of the Earl of Home, Sir John Stirling Maxwell of Pollok and Sir Robert Lorimer, architect; plans and specifications by Messrs Buchan & Partners, engineers; Sir William Arrol & Co. civil engineering contractors; the English Electric Co. hydro-electric plant; 1925 with some later alterations including repalcement gates. Flat-arched white rendered reinforced concrete bridge and tilting weir with some origional steel sluice gates by Ransomes & Rapier Ltd, Ipswich. Square section cutwaters with chamfered edges at water level. Three moveable riveted steel gates with cross bracing, set in a reinforced concrete frame. Spillway to E side of weir with trash screens. Original street lamps to roadway of bridge; gateposts and other ironwork by Ramage & Whitehead, Glasgow. Altertaions in the early 21st century included the addition of some new gates.

Statement of Special Interest

The weir is significant as part of the first large-scale hydro-electric scheme at the Falls of Clyde for public power supply in Britain. It is also, with associated pipes and tunnels, an impressive feat of engineering. The mechanism of the tilting steel gates was unique at the time it was constructed. The three gates could be lowered by pivoting on steel bearings in the lower section. A counterweight acting on the weir gates was set to resist the pressure of water when the river was at the optimum height but would allow the gates to move down if water level (and pressure) rose. The mechanism was designed to maintain water level to within six inches of this optimum. The spillway with its trash screens feed filtered water into 10ft diameter tunnels which link to overground pipes with a surge tank at the junction and ultimately to the turbines in the power house.

As the surroundings were recognised to be of exceptional natural beauty, attention was paid to sympathetic design of the scheme, here as well as nearby at Bonnington, where another, very similar power station was finished a year earlier.

The development of the Falls of Clyde 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 the British Aluminium Company) 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.

Sir Edward McColl was one of the foremost hydroelectric engineers of the twentieth century. In addition to pioneering the use of run-of-the-river technology in Scotland at the Falls of Clyde scheme he went on to work for the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board. One of his most high profile schemes was the design and development of Britain's first pumped storage facility at Ben Cruachan in Argyll where the turbine house and transformer station are house in large subterranean caverns hewn out of the interior of the mountain.

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

References

Bibliography

Clyde Valley Electrical Power Co, Harnessing The Falls of Clyde (1926); Harnessing the Falls of Clyde: the Construction of the Hydro-Electric Scheme. 1924-7. Archive: the Quarterly Journal for British Industrial and Transport History, Issue 14 (1997), pp17-27. Peter McGowan Associates and John Renshaw Architects, The Falls of Clyde: Feasibility Study for the Conservation Works (2004). New Lanark World Heritage Site Management Plan 2003-2008 (2003). Roland Paxton and Jim Shipway: Civil Engineering Heritage: Scotland Lowlands & Borders (2007), pp228-229.

About Listed Buildings

Listing is the way that a building or structure of special architectural or historic interest is recognised by law through the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) (Scotland) Act 1997.

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