The bal­ance of power

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

THE 100-year old hy­dropower sys­tem at Cas­tle Drogo, Devon (above)—‘the last cas­tle built in Eng­land’, de­signed by Sir Ed­win Lu­tyens, who was com­mis­sioned on the ad­vice of COUN­TRY LIFE founder Ed­ward Hud­son—is back in work­ing or­der for the first time in more than 20 years.

High on the north­ern slopes of Dart­moor over­look­ing the Teign Gorge, Drogo was com­mis­sioned by Julius Drewe, a Vic­to­rian busi­ness­man so suc­cess­ful he re­tired at the age of 33, and is the first 20th-cen­tury prop­erty ac­quired by the Na­tional Trust, to whom it was gifted in 1974.

Upon com­ple­tion in 1930, it was a state-ofthe-art home with all the lat­est tech­nolo­gies of the day, in­clud­ing a hy­dropower sys­tem gen­er­at­ing enough elec­tric­ity for the en­tire house, us­ing the fast-flow­ing wa­ter of the River Teign. The sys­tem pow­ered Drogo un­til the 1970s, when it was con­nected to the Na­tional Grid. The hy­dropower restora­tion, funded by the Trust’s Re­new­able En­ergy In­vest­ment Pro­gramme, which aims to gen­er­ate 50% of its en­ergy from re­new­able sources by 2020, means that the cas­tle, vis­i­tor cen­tre, cafe and shop are now heated by a biomass sys­tem linked to the two re­in­stated tur­bines.

Drogo is also cur­rently in the mid­dle of a £13 mil­lion, six-year project to make it wa­ter­tight, sched­uled to com­plete at the end of 2018.

‘It’s fan­tas­tic to be able to share with the pub­lic for the first time what must have been unique in its day,’ says project man­ager Gra­ham Wad­dell. ‘Gen­er­at­ing sus­tain­able, re­new­able en­ergy is some­thing that res­onates with all of us, even to­day, in an age where cli­mate change is an in­creas­ingly ur­gent is­sue.’

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