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By the beginning of the war, the role of aluminium as an essential component of aircraft production was firmly established. Viscount Portal of Hungerford, later to become a director of the company, who was Marshall of the Royal Air Force and Chief of the Air Staff was closely involved with the supply of materials of strategic importance and the decision was taken in 1942 to extend the Lochaber catchment by impounding the headwaters of the River Spey and diverting the flow into Loch Laggan and on to Fort William. These properties, also part of the Gordon fiefdom, had been bought by the Baillies of Dochfour at the 1833 sale. They were subsequently exchanged with Sir John Ramsden of Ardverikie as part of a complex land deal in 1872, and it was he who built Sherramore Lodge in 1896. As part of a large scale rationalisation of the family’s interests, it was sold to Lord Radnor in 1934, from whom BA bought it in 1941.

Other than for their place in the provision of power to the smelters, the three estates and the smaller satellite properties are very different. Over the years, management plans were developed to recognise the distinction between the three districts – Lochaber, Appin and Badenoch – in which they were located, together with the fact that the BA, as a corporate industrial body had objectives and responsibilities that set it apart from the traditional landowner. That, like the story of the acquisitions, is a much more complicated story than it might appear.

The aluminium industry has played a life changing role over a period of more than 100 years in all the communities it has touched. For reasons associated with events far removed from the resource which brought it to the Highlands, ownership of The Company has changed on five occasions; that has not affected the perception of those who live within the area, which surely must be a reflection on the favourable relationship between the predecessors of the present owners and those to whom Lochaber is home.

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