Past and present employees of the countries only remaining aluminium factory have gathered in Lochaber to celebrate the plant’s 90th anniversary.
More than 300 people gathered at the Fort William hydro-electric plant and smelter yesterday to celebrate the milestone occasion and share memories of working at the historic and iconic plant.
The Fort William plant – which lies at the foot of Ben Nevis – produces up to 50,000 tonnes of aluminium annually, powered by renewable energy from fresh water running off the slopes of Scotland’s highest mountain.
To celebrate the anniversary, plant owners Liberty Aluminium created an exhibition showcasing an array of pictures and memorabilia from the last nine decades as past and present employees shared their memorable experiences of the plant.
Sanjeev Gupta, Executive Chairman of the GFG Alliance, said: “The Lochaber complex was an engineering triumph, requiring 2,000 men to drive tunnels through the solid rock of the Ben Nevis range. That Highland ‘can do’ spirit has endured for generations as Lochaber has kept lights ablaze and provided high quality metal for use across British industry.
“This is a very special place and it’s a privilege to be a part of its history.”
The historic smelter was first given parliamentary approval in 1921, before coming into operation in 1929, taking around 95% of the 82,000kW of power generated by the plant at the time.
The engineering works to establish the plant to working order and its power supply spanned more than two decades, involving thousands of hours of man power and time.
By the time the works were complete more than £5million had been spent on the iconic structure which remains in running operation today.
Among the guests was SNP candidate Ian Blackford who spoke of the importance of celebrating such a monumental occasion in history.
He said: “It’s an important issue and I have been a strong supporter of what Liberty have been doing at the plant for some years so I was really pleased at being there today. I think if we look back on the 90-year history it really has, as a consequence of that, given jobs and prosperity to the area.
“It’s really important we celebrate this and one of the things from today was that it wasn’t just those who work in the plant, but a number of ex-employees came back to share in that celebration as well because it’s about the contribution they have made. I have to say, it was a very good atmosphere at the plant so I think it was a very positive event that people enjoyed.”