Whirlow Mill

Sheffield is rich in restored waterwheels, though the majority of wheels have vanished. Shepherd Wheel, on the Sheaf, has recently been restored. One of the information boards there shows how the big wheel was set up, so that it could turn up to 20 grindstones.

Abbeydale Hamlet is close to Ecclesall Woods, and was a major use of woodland products in the 18th and 19th century. Before Abbeydale Road was built, as a toll road in the 18th century, Ecclesall Woods surrounded the Hamlet, and charcoal and coal were supplied along woodland paths and probably the route from the playing fields down and across the Limb Brook. Before this, the existing dam at the Hamlet was constructed about 1770, covering a much smaller dam and an area which was used for lead smelting, probably 16th century. White coal from the Woods would probably have been used for this.

Whirlow Mill

Whirlow Mill, with its small dam and larger feeder dam upstream, shows how important water flow was for the industrial processes in early Sheffield. If you look along the course of the Sheaf, there were at least 28 mills operating, each with its own water supply and dam taken from the Sheaf and returned to it after use. Totley Forge is closest to the source; some of the water for "Blonks Tilt" and the Simon Wheel came from the Sheaf, before the water was discharged to the Don. It is obvious that there would be difficulties in each of these finding enough water to operate as often as their owners wished, especially in a dry summer.

Credits Painting by Jane Beresford, derived from a 1933 photograph. Maps copyright Ordnance Survey and Oldmaps.co.uk Corn mill diagram, from W. T. Miller, Watermills of Sheffield, 1936. Words by Linda Evans Board design by Jimmy's Garden Services

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