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19 May 2022

Dusty old Visitor Books can provide a rich source of information and, having recently come across the original Torr Achilty visitors book in our Archive, I’m keen to track down any colleagues who worked at the Station and can fill in some of the gaps that have come to light.

The first question that immediately springs to mind is that the Power Station became operational in 1954 and yet the first visitor appears to be a Miss J MacRae from Beauly on 26 March 1956.  Is there an earlier version still to be unearthed or did it really take two years before we opened our doors to visitors? ​​​​​​

And then there are the stats: 1,994 guests signed the book between 1956 and 2015 when a Mr Whittall from Inverness closed with the remark ‘should have signed this 7 years ago’. 

From my lunchtime reading, it’s clear that some years fared better than others with 267 signatures topping the bill in 1958.  And some months also drew more interest than others with a highpoint on 18 June 1978, when 3 Scots conducted a tour for 26 overseas visitors from as far away as Korea, India, Tanzania, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Thailand, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Malawi, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and Mauritius!

Schools were also drawn to Torr Achilty with a 1996 visit from Dingwall Academy and a 2012 visit from Millburn Academy. Both groups of pupils were clearly impressed leaving their hosts with lots of hearty “thank yous”.

But some periods didn’t do quite so well and suffered from particularly sparse footfall - 1976 mustered up just two guests and ’79, ‘82, 2001, 2010 and 2013 all fell to a measly single signature each year. But it was 2009 that really hit rock bottom with not a single guest through the door! Or at least that’s what this old book tells us.

So, if you can shine any light on the visitor peaks and troughs, please get in touch as I’ve no doubt there are many more stories to tell – not least the one regarding Mr Whittall and his extended stay in 2008!

And please also remember, Archives are only as stimulating as their contents so if you have anything interesting to share, please get in touch by emailing heritage@sse.com.