Grudie Bridge Power Station, Highland

Ink on linen, 1948
RCAHMS: RIAS (McKean) Shearer and Annand collection

Grudie Bridge Power Station formed part of the Conon Valley Hydro-Electric Scheme. This was one of the first major post- Second World War schemes begun by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board to harness waterpower to generate electricity . The exploitation of the River Conon basin entailed eight dams, nine tunnels and six power stations, one of which was Grudie Bridge Power station. The architect James Shearer was one of three consultant architects appointed to influence and oversee the appearance of the numerous buildings connected with the schemes. 

Grudie was designed by the architects Shearer and Annand and came on stream in 1950. The building is in the modernist style, faced with Tarradale red sandstone from Easter Ross and decorated with plaques bearing Pictish symbols – a ‘nod’ to Scotland’s past in context of the future as represented by hydro-power technology.

 

'Pictish' carving, Grudie Bridge Power Station, Highland
Pencil and white chalk on tracing paper, c.1950
RCAHMS: RIAS (McKean) Shearer and Annand collection

This is one of the designs for the ‘Pictish’ carvings used to decorate the exterior of Grudie Bridger Power Station.  Executed by the sculptor Thomas Whalen, the designs were researched by consultant architect James Shearer using volumes of The Spalding Club Sculptured Stones Scotland and J R Allen and J Anderson’s The Early Christian Monuments of Scotland. This carving depicts an eagle devouring a fish. It is found on a number of Pictish cross slabs including the Drosten Stone at St Vigeans.