Kinlochleven guide

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The village was dominated by an aluminium processing plant, powered by a hydroelectric scheme situated in the mountains above.

The hydroelectric scheme was constructed in 1907 for the British Aluminium Company (later merged with Alcan) and was designed by engineer brothers Patrick and Charles Meik. Chief assistant resident engineer on the project was a young William Halcrow.

The scheme involved the construction of a gravity dam over 914 m long (the longest in the Highlands) and 27 m high, creating the Blackwater Reservoir. It was built at an elevation of over 305 m in rugged and almost inaccessible terrain, and involved the construction of some 6 km of concrete aqueduct and nearly 13 km of steel pipe. It has been described as the last major creation of the traditional 'navvy' whose activities in the construction of canals and railways left an indelible mark on the British countryside.

During the Second World War Corporal James Hendry, a Canadian serviceman, won the George Cross for the heroism he displayed during a fire and subsequent explosion at a powder house used for building of the tunnel which brings water to the plant.

In 1991, the village (according to Annual Census returns) had just over 1000 inhabitants in some 420 households. It has a post office and a handful of hotels and hostels popular with walkers following the West Highland Way. A building, which was formerly a coke bunker for carbon production for the Reduction Works, has now (2004) been transformed into a local ale brewery and a major mountain activity centre, known as the Ice Factor, and includes the world's highest indoor ice-climbing facility, the UK's highest indoor articulated rock climbing wall and bouldering facility.

 


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