Sir Edward MacColl

1882 - 1951

Memorial to Sir Edward MacColl at Pitlochry Power Station
©2022 Gazetteer for Scotland

Memorial to Sir Edward MacColl at Pitlochry Power Station

Engineer and pioneer of hydro-electricity in Scotland. MacColl was born in Dumbarton, into a family which came originally from Melfort (Argyll and Bute). He served his apprenticeship in John Brown's Shipyard in Clydebank. In 1901, he joined Glasgow Corporation to work in Pinkston Power Station, which provided power to the city's tram network. In 1919 he took the post of Chief Electrical Engineer with the Clyde Valley Electric Power Company and was instrumental in the building of the Falls of Clyde (Lanark) Hydro-Electric scheme. He went on to work for the newly formed Central Electricity Board and developed, in Central Scotland, the first regional electricity supply grid in the United Kingdom, which was standardised on a frequency of 50 Hz and a voltage of 132kV. In 1936, he proposed a large hydro-electric scheme linking Loch Sloy and Loch Lomond, but it took seven years until his vision was recognised. The Secretary of State for Scotland Tom Johnston, who had created the North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board to promote development in the Highlands, appointed MacColl as its Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive. MacColl went on to build hydro-electric schemes including Glen Affric-River Beauly, Breadalbane, Loch Sloy-Loch Awe, Glen Garry-Glen Moriston, Strath Conon and Loch Tummel.

MacColl was a small man who worked extraordinarily hard and had difficulty delegating responsibility. This undoubtedly contributed to his sudden death shortly before the opening of the Tummel Scheme. Instead of the planned grand ceremony, a memorial to MacColl was unveiled at Pitlochry Power Station.

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