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Fort William, Lochaber Aluminium Smelter, Penstocks

Penstocks (20th Century)

Site Name Fort William, Lochaber Aluminium Smelter, Penstocks

Classification Penstocks (20th Century)

Alternative Name(s) Lochaber Hydroelectric Power Scheme

Canmore ID 76445

Site Number NN17SW 22

NGR NN 13205 74956

Datum OSGB36 - NGR


Ordnance Survey licence number 100057073. All rights reserved.
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Administrative Areas

  • Council Highland
  • Parish Kilmallie
  • Former Region Highland
  • Former District Lochaber
  • Former County Inverness-shire

Recording Your Heritage Online

Hydro Electricity Power Station, completed 1929. A remarkable piece of engineering still operating with its original machinery. It is served by a 15 mile/15 ft diameter tunnel (the longest of its kind in the world when constructed by the Grampian Electricity Co), which brings water from Lochs Treig and Laggan, driving it through part of Ben Nevis en route. Aluminium Smelter, 1929, at the base of Fort William's vast 'drain pipes', is well served by the West Highland Railway.

Taken from "Western Seaboard: An Illustrated Architectural Guide", by Mary Miers, 2008. Published by the Rutland Press

Archaeology Notes

NN17SW 22.00 13205 74956

Pipe Lines [NAT] (at NN 1291 7502)

OS 1:10,000 map, 1975.

NN17SW 22.01 NN 13718 74782 Surge Chamber ('Shaft')

For associated Lochaber Aluminium Smelter (centred NN 12556 75030), see NN17NW 16.00.

Extends onto map sheet NN17NW.

Location formerly entered as NN 128 750 to NN 135 748.

These penstocks supply water (for hydro-electric power generation) to the Lochaber Aluminium Smelter, Fort William (NN17NW 16).

The available map evidence depicts two parallel penstocks, that to the N running from NN 13600 74824 to NN 12816 75125, and that to the S from NN 13576 74794 to NN 12814 75069.

Information from RCAHMS (RJCM), 10 June 2006.


Field Visit (2010)

The pipeline is an iconic structure leading over the shoulder of Ben Nevis connecting the outlet from the tunnel through to Loch Treig (see separate record) to the powerhouse below. This pipeline is a striking linear feature prominently sited on the shoulder of Ben Nevis. Our current state of knowledge suggests that the pipes are of relatively standard design for their date with no particular degree of technical innovation beyond the inaccessibility of their location. J R Hume, 1977; PL Payne, 1988; E Wood, 2002; Concrete and Constructional Engineering IV (1909); Alcan, n.d.


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