Aluminium Works, Kinlochleven, Highland

Colour photograph, 1991
Survey by RCAHMS

Aluminium is not an industry for which Scotland is generally known, but in fact it was one of the most important manufacturing centres in the world during the twentieth century.

The Kinlochleven smelter was completed by the British Aluminium Co in 1909, generating the necessary hydro-electricity from water stored behind the Blackwater Dam. Much of the associated concrete infrastructure was built by Robert McAlpine. The smelter was famous for the purity of its aluminium ingots.

At the heart of the Kinlochleven plant is a power station (depicted here), within which there is a sequence of DC generators built in 1907, each driven by Pelton wheels. The smelter operated until 1995, after which the power station was converted to produce electricity for the national grid.