Stewartry U3A visits Tongland Power Station

July 10th, 2015Comments Off on Stewartry U3A visits Tongland Power Station

I’m sure many of you will have driven past the power stations and dams of the Galloway Hydroelectric scheme, especially the one at Tongland. U3A members were lucky enough to be allowed to visit the Tongland Power Station and the Dam in July. Although it is no longer manned, the original offices have been turned into a visitor centre which shows the history of the amazing project which was carried out in the early 1930s by two local men who required an Act of Parliament to be passed to make it happen. Our tour guide, Rowan Armstrong from the Galloway Fisheries Trust, took us through the original history and more recent history when all the systems were centralised at Glenlee, leaving the remaining five stations unmanned. The systems strategy to ensure the balance between power generation, flood control and fisheries management is delicate and our group had many questions. Most tours are for school children and I think we may have overwhelmed our poor guide – although she did say that the school children were easier to manage than the U3A group, some of whom managed to get lost on the way from the power station to the Dam. They were not generating while we were there, but we saw the turbines and learnt that they are substantially the same as when they were installed in 1934, no plastic or stainless steel to be seen.

The Dam is the most complex structure in the Scheme being a combination of arch dam and gravity dam and also having a long salmon ladder with many resting pools. Since 2007 they have been counting and tagging the salmon and trout to monitor their movements and numbers. Last year was very bad, but this year seems to be improving. The main threats are the weather (too hot or cold) and the American Signal Crayfish which disturb their traditional spawning areas in Loch Ken.

We did get to see the power of the water when the workers on the dam did some experimental releases, and you understand why it isn’t safe anywhere near there. It was a wonderfully informative tour, and if we are allowed back, we might arrange another one next year.

Helen Henderson (Events Organiser)


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