Our June issue’s Focus On is Argyll, so here’s a wee bit more for you! We explore the feat of engineering that is Cruachan Power Station
DID YOU KNOW, in the early 1960s, tigers were rife in the Loch Awe area? ‘The Tunnel Tigers’ were a group of men responsible for digging and blasting a huge cave into the black granite of Ben Cruachan.
From 1959, the construction of the Cruachan Power Station involved over 4,000 people. 1,200 of those people were the Tigers.
Their back-breaking work in conditions that would put the frighteners on any modern-day health and safety representative was key to the project’s success.
It was a multi-national workforce from Ireland, Scotland and abroad. Their back-breaking work in conditions that would put the frighteners on any modern-day health and safety representative was key to the project’s success.
24-hour or even 36-hour shifts were commonplace even though the minimum was twelve-hour shifts. The risks were high – 36 men died during the construction. But the pay was excellent and many would earn more in a year than they could earn in a lifetime.
In 1965, the power station was officially opened.
The visit Cruachan experience is a must. Hourly tours to the cave are available from the visitor centre adjacent to the power station.
Photography is prohibited on site. But, what you’ll see, you’ll never forget.
It only takes half an hour or so, as a mini-bus drives you one kilometre in and 120 feet down from sea level, deep inside rock dating back billions of years.
Your tour guide takes you to an observation platform looking down on the four huge generators. You must somehow come to terms that directly above you are 1126 metres (3694 feet) of Ben Cruachan. And if you think you’re on the set of a James Bond film, you’re not far wrong. It was used in the filming of The World Is Not Enough.
While other Scottish hidden wonders are more obvious – the Cuillin ridge, the sands of Arisaig or the cliffs of Eshaness, Shetland, to name but three – this magnificent feat of Scottish engineering and construction rightfully ranks alongside any of them.