Open for business - SSE’s stunning new Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre welcomes its first visitors

Pitlochry’s newest and most dramatic visitor centre opened its doors to the public for the first time today [Monday 30 January].

The Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre is expected to welcome 88,000 visitors in its first year of opening, who will learn about the SSE’s historic role in bringing hydro electricity to the Highlands.

The free entry centre will showcase the great engineering feats of the hydro projects of the 1950s, the benefits to society of bringing power to the glens and the incredible story of how salmon navigate their way through SSE’s dams and fish ladders.

Thanks to its innovative design the visitor centre and 60 seat café appears to ‘hover’ off the ground, providing breath-taking views of the dam and River Tummel below.

Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre will pay tribute to the achievements of the ‘Tunnel Tigers’ and hydro pioneers whose endeavour and foresight powered a green energy revolution.

SSE Head of Heritage, Gillian O’Reilly, said the building was creating a genuine ‘buzz’ in the Pitlochry area.

She said: “When we came up with the designs for the new visitor centre we knew we were going for something bold and we’re delighted with how it’s turned out. Built on stilts on the banks of the River Tummel; it’s deliberately designed to make the most of the stunning views of the dam and Loch Faskally, and I hope people will, like me, be bowled over.

“We are excited the Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre is complete and it’s very exciting to be able to welcome our first visitors. We have a great team in place led by Lisa Daniels who will ensure that everyone who comes here will get a warm welcome and a great experience.”

Lisa Daniels is the Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre Manager. She joined SSE in July 2016 and has since discovered a passion for all things hydro and wants to create a great place for ‘a blether.’

She said: “I think being the manager of Pitlochry Dam Visitor Centre gives me one of the best jobs in SSE. I’ve loved learning about hydro heritage since coming to SSE. It’s a very human story yet it transformed the lives for thousands of Highland homes which didn’t have electricity until the 1950s. The engineering feats are incredible and it will be privilege to have some of the Tunnel Tigers here in person for our official opening – this place really is a testament to what they achieved." 

The main exhibition space will use a range of technologies to tell the story of the great engineering projects carried out by early pioneers to bring electricity to the Scottish Highlands.  

The exhibits in the new centre will also demonstrate how energy is harnessed from nature using wind and water and turned into electricity. In addition, visitors will discover the secrets of the annual journey made by salmon when they return to their native Perthshire rivers to spawn and the part played by our salmon ladder, which has been crossed by over 250,000 salmon since it was built in 1952.