Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Cabinet this week officially opened SSE’s new £4m Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre in Perthshire.

In a poignant tribute to the engineers who helped build such Highland hydro schemes as Pitlochry in the 1950s, some of the original ‘Tunnel Tigers’ were there to share their memories.

Sturgeon and John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and local MSP, joined Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, to unveil a commemorative plaque to the historic hydro workers on 6 February, before the Scottish Government settled down to the business of its first Cabinet tour of 2017 at the venue.

Building on SSE’s proud hydro heritage, the energy company decided to open a new free-to-visit centre to showcase the engineering revolution which brought power to the glens for the first time.

The new visitor centre is cantilevered eight metres out from the banks of the River Tummel providing breath-taking views of Pitlochry dam, hydro station and Loch Faskally. It also has a 60 seat café and multi-purpose space suitable for educational visits.

The centre will create up to 17 jobs, all paying the real Living Wage and is aiming to attract 88,000 visitors in its first year of opening.

“This outstanding new visitor centre is a major boost for tourism in Highland Perthshire,” commented Sturgeon. “Pitlochry Dam is already a popular visitor attraction, so it is fitting that this spectacular new building not only enjoys great views onto the Dam, it also tells the rich story of Scotland’s hydro revolution in an engaging and informative way. The project is testament to SSE’s commitment to the town and I am delighted to officially open the centre today.”

Alistair Phillips-Davies, SSE Chief Executive, added: “SSE is very proud of its hydro heritage and we all owe a huge debt of gratitude to the pioneers and Tunnel Tigers whose endeavour helped create this network of tunnels, dams and hydro stations in the 1950s which still powers homes today. This is a key chapter in Scotland’s social and engineering history and we felt we had a duty to tell that story.”

One of the original Tunnel Tigers from Donegal, John ‘Gonna’ O’Donnell, had flown in from Ireland especially for the official opening.

He said: “Today is a fitting and lasting tribute to the men who built the dams. Thanks to SSE, future generations can come to this stunning visitor centre and hear our hydro story for themselves.”


Read an indepth feature on the visitor centre, and the role of the ‘tunnel tigers’, here.