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Rivers at Work

Hydro-electric power in the Highlands

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The story of the electrification of the Highlands by the North of Scotland Hydro-Electric Board. Commentary by John Grierson. The film includes shots of the construction of Sloy dam at Loch Sloy and Sloy dam in operation; Loch Lairige dam; Loch Tummel and Rannoch dams and power station; Loch Errochty reservoie; Loch Tummel dam at Clunie; Clunie power station; Pitlochry power station and control room; Glascarnoch dam and power station at Luichart; construction of Glenmoriston dam; buttresses at Shira dam; construction work on dam and blasting rock; Loch Cuarch reservoir; Glen Affric dam; workers houses at Cannich; fish ladder at Pitlochry; falls of Lochy; salmon hatchery at Invergarry; electric pylons and telegraph poles in the Highlands; electric powered machinery; electric brooders for poultry; electric dryers for grain and grass; Invergarry power station; shot of puffer with cargo of coal approaching harbour on West Coast and unloading; shots of pit head and of coal in railway wagons on its way to power station; Dounreay power station.

Questions & Activities


  • How does the music add to the film?
  • What examples of figurative language does the narrator use?
  • Why was that site chosen to build the power station?
  • Why was there a need for more power in Scotland in the 1950s?


Geography / Science: Research the environmental advantages and disadvantages of hydro-electric power?

Geography / Science: Research how much of the electricity in Scotland is generated by hydro-electric power? What other sources of electricity are there?

Science / English: List how many different ways you use electricity in an average day.

Science / Geography: Investigate how your school could use more renewable energy sources.

Media Studies / Technologies: Download the animations showing how the turbine system works and annotate adding in more detail.

Technologies: Research how was water used for power before electricity.