Ffestiniog Power Station

Ffestiniog Power Station between Llyn Ystradau and the Ffestiniog Railway. The spoil heaps of Cwmorthin Quarry can be seen in the background on the left.


24 November 2012

Tanygrisiau, Ffestiniog

SH 67784 44307; 52.97974°N, 3.97070°W


Construction for the Central Electricity Generating Board of the Ffestiniog Pumped Storage Scheme commenced in 1957 and the power station was commissioned in 1963, making it the UK’s first major pumped-storage system. Stwlan Dam was built to create the upper reservoir by enlarging the small lake, Llyn Stwlan, nestling in a cwm at an elevation of 500m in the Moelwyn mountains; while the lower reservoir, Llyn Ystradau (or Tanygrisiau Reservoir), was formed by damming the river Ystradau just to the south of Tanygrisiau village.

The facility provides power to the National Grid at times of high demand and it has a combined output of 360 MW from its four generators. During periods of low demand, normally overnight, the system operates in reverse: taking electricity from the Grid, the generators are run as motors and the turbines act as pumps to drive water back up from the lower to the upper reservoir.

Ffestiniog Power Station is currently owned by First Hydro, a joint venture between International Power plc and Mitsui & Co. Ltd. Having been acquired in June 2012, International Power is now a wholly owned subsidiary of French multinational electric utility company GDF Suez SA, and has been rebranded as GDF SUEZ Energy International. Mitsui & Co is one of Japan’s largest sogo shosa, or traditional general trading companies, and is itself part of the zaibatsu (corporate conglomerate) Mistui Group.

Ffestiniog Power Station (First Hydro)

The Ffestiniog Railway at the back of the pumped-storage power station

Ffestiniog Power Station

Ffestiniog Power Station, looking towards Manod Bach and Manod Mawr

1960s Brutalist architecture

Ffestiniog Power Station. The top of Trawsfynydd Power Station can just be seen peeking over the ridge in the background on the extreme right.

13 thoughts on “Ffestiniog Power Station

  1. They didn’t expend much time on the architectural elements of the power station did they? I’m sure they’d be forced to do something more ‘sympathetic’ to it’s surroundings these days.

  2. The power station wouldn’t win any beauty contests, but the shenanigans with the FR during it’s construction were equally ugly. Full marks to you Graham for trying to wrest something aesthetically pleasing from all that neo-brutalism.

  3. I know I am in a minority here, but I actually like good examples of Brutalist architecture, as this seems to me to be. (do you know the Berkley library in Trinity College Dublin? It’s a masterpiece of the genre) Good piece, god pictures here, enjoyed it/them. A friend of mine lives in North Wales (in Snowdon) and I visit her and her husband there every year or so, so I also enjoyed the memory of those distinctive landscapes. Great piece, keep up the good work. -Arran.

  4. Pingback: Stwlan Dam « GeoTopoi

  5. Pingback: Tanygrisiau Dam « GeoTopoi

  6. Pingback: Dduallt Station, Ffestiniog Railway « GeoTopoi

  7. Pingback: Moelwyn Mine « GeoTopoi

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