The balance of power
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.’