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] leem­ing­pa­ter­ 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

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