Almost 100 Years of Aluminium Production in Lochaber
The Lochaber hydroelectric scheme was a hydroelectric power generation project constructed in Lochaber after the First World War in 1929. Like its predecessor at Kinlochleven, it was intended to provide electricity for aluminium production.
In 2019 we celebrated the 90th anniversary of the Lochaber smelter and hydro-electric plant, one of Scotland’s best-known and iconic industrial plants. Past and present employees of the UK’s only remaining aluminium factory gathered in Fort William, along with senior management and local stakeholders, to celebrate the history of the site and the important part it has and will continue to play to the local community.
Watch our video to view how this unique plant was built and see below our history timeline.
Construction of the smelter started in 1924 and was completed in 1929.
1929 (29th Dec)
The first aluminium ingot was produced on site.
The completion of Laggan Dam.
1940 (20th Dec)
December 20th 1940 a low-level attack was made on the factory. A JU88 dropped two 500kg bombs, fortunately both bombs failed to explode. The bomb remains an important part of the smelter history.
1943 Spey tunnel construction began
Completion of the final stage of the tunnel construction channelled the headwaters of spey, via Loch Crunachan and a two-mile man-made tunnel, into Loch Laggan extending the catchment area.
With the completion of the modernisation of the Lochaber Smelter to AP18tm technology and tunnel repair, the smelters production capacity increased to 48,000 tonnes.
British Aluminium merged with Alcan Inc.
Closure of Kinlochleven Smelter, the powerhouse remains operative.
A US$70M Power station upgrade from DC to AC generators increased installed capacity to 100MW.
The Alcan Lynmouth Aluminium Smelter ceased production in March 2012. Lochaber is now the last remaining smelter in the UK.
GFG Alliance acquisition. Liberty British Aluminium (now ALVANCE), SIMEC Lochaber Hydro-power and JAHAMA Highland Estates were formed.
Green aluminium and billet & recycling facility development
(read more about the future plans here)