Free to visitors, the centre will use state of the art technology to showcase the role played by the engineers who brought hydro power to Scotland over 70 years ago. Visitors will also discover the secrets of the annual journey made by salmon, as they return to native Perthshire rivers to spawn.
Situated at the end of the Tummel valley, the picturesque Pitlochry Dam is already a major tourist attraction, with an estimated 50,000 visitors crossing it each year. It also boasts a popular fish ladder and the scenic beauty of Loch Faskally. The new visitor centre will open in Autumn 2016 and will house a 60 seat café, retail area, and a multi-space area for educational use. Once open, it will support over a dozen full and part-time jobs in peak season, many of which will be permanent roles.
Outgoing SSE chairman Lord Smith, said the new visitor centre will have an important story to tell.
He said: “SSE’s history is Scotland’s history. The North of Scotland Hydro Electric Board is so much more than the forefathers of one of Scotland’s biggest companies. Hydro electricity improved the lives of ordinary people living in the north of Scotland and we have a responsibility to preserve and promote the remarkable stories from that time. Over the years SSE has been at the forefront of many energy firsts and it will strive to be good stewards of these assets for years to come. I believe the best way to share these stories, both old and new, is to bring them together under one roof and being a Perthshire company we are proud to be announcing this investment in Pitlochry.”
Fergus Ewing, minister for business, energy & tourism, said: “SSE has chosen a fantastic location for this centre which will provide a boost for both business and tourism in the Perthshire area. Not only will the construction period create jobs but once open the visitor centre will be another major attraction for tourists in the area.”
Councillor John Kellas, enterprise and infrastructure convenor for Perth and Kinross Council, said: “I welcome the news of this investment by SSE in a state of the art visitor centre at Pitlochry Dam. The tourism industry is incredibly important to our economy, supporting local jobs and bringing many visitors to Perth and Kinross. SSE’s visitor centre is sure to be a fantastic attraction to locals and visitors alike; drawing them to what is already an impressive and popular site.”
The new visitor centre experience will focus on heritage and celebrate the pioneering engineering and construction works which were undertaken in the early years following World War Two. Entry will be free and it will be open seven days a week throughout the year.
SSE has recently converted the former visitor centre in Pitlochry into a corporate archive, open to the general public by appointment, which will store many historical blueprints, speeches and artefacts.