You are in:  Home - History - Dam Builders, The
The Dam Builders

Publication Date
07 July 2007
Paperback (also available as an eBook)
Available for Sale
Birlinn Ltd
b/w throughout

The Dam Builders

Power From The Glens
by James Miller - Find out more about the author


eBook also available from the iBookstore

The Dam Builders: Power from the Glens is a vivid account of the construction schemes of the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. The names of the schemes — Loch Sloy, Glen Shira, Tummel-Garry, the Conon Valley, Glen Affric, Strathfarrar-Kilmorack, Glenmoriston-Garry, Shin, Breadalbane, and Ben Cruachan — are vivid in the memories of all who worked on them, in an epic of hard physical labour set in a beautiful landscape. By the time the last scheme was opened in Foyers in 1975, the engineers commissioned by the Board had built some fifty major dams and power stations, almost 200 miles of tunnel, 400 miles of road, and over 20,000 miles of power line.

The Board had to overcome adverse weather and thawn geology, as well as political opposition. At the peak of construction the workforce numbered around 12,000 and included men from Ireland and Europe as well as indigenous Scots. They are all proud of what they achieved: 'When visitors come and you tell them about the work, you’re nearly a hero.'

Nothing on such a scale had been attempted before, and the schemes symbolised far more than huge devices for the generation of electricity. Fired by the idealism of Tom Johnston, the Board’s founder and the best Secretary of State Scotland had seen, the schemes brought regeneration and hope.

This book contains eye-witness stories from many of the workers — from dambuilders, engineers, tunnel tigers and linemen — who made the electrification of the Highlands a reality.

James Miller was born and brought up in Caithness. After working abroad and in London he returned to the north of Scotland to work as a full-time writer. His previous books published by Birlinn include Swords for Hire, The North Atlantic Front and Inverness. He lives near Inverness.

Related books