Memories paint picture of the hydro scheme
Artists investigating the story of the Glenkens’ dams, reservoirs and power stations are uncovering a remarkable social history.
Renowned photographers Ted Leeming and Morag Paterson are researching the huge hydro projects of the 1930s.
And local folk’s memories of the Galloway Hydro-electric Scheme are proving invaluable.
Now the Glenkens husband and wife team are keen to gather even more material for their Energise project.
Morag said: “The response has been tremendous and we’d love to hear more. We’ve lived in this area more than 20 years ourselves but the stories people tell us are helping us to see the entire landscape through new eyes.
“For many there is a pride in being home to a huge source of renewable energy and a real sense of the importance of green power for the future.
“Some older residents told us about the impact that up to 2,000 construction workers had on the area – especially when they needed to let off steam.
“We’ve heard how the camps had their own football teams and competed in the local league – with Glenlee winning the cup in 1932.
“And then there are stories about how men hired a bus to take them to the pubs and offload them back at camp ‘pickled’ at the end of the night.”
There were other sides to life in the construction camps, Morag said.
She added: “The minister Thomas P Hitman regularly did a round-trip of 160 miles on his bike to attend to the construction workers’ spiritual needs and organise recreational activities.
“It seems the church eventually bought him a motorbike.”
Once their research is complete Morag and Ted, together with Dundee artist Jason Nelson, will create art inspired by what they have learned.
Dumfries and Galloway’s Upland Arts Development are backing the Energise programme.
Projects director Amy Marletta said: “Just about everyone in the Galloway glens has been affected by the hydro schemes. They help power people’s homes, give us areas to go walking or cycling, and clearly made a big difference to local society when they were being built.”
Creative Scotland and the Galloway Glens Landscape Partnership are also supporting the project.
GGLP team leader McNabb Laurie said: “The Galloway Hydro Scheme, constructed in the 1930s, continues to be a distinctive influence on the glen.
“It has an average electricity output each year of about 90 per cent of the region’s annual requirement. The technology is still performing well today and the scheme is a notable player in the national energy mix.”
Anyone with memories of the hydro scheme can email [email protected] leemingpaterson.com or phone 07917102693.
Camps had their own football teams. Glenlee won the cup in 1932
Research Morag Paterson, Ted Leeming and Jason Nelson are studying hydro scheme