A model water wheel that was built many years ago by one of our volunteers and water power enthusiastÂ Rowan Watson-Taylor, has recently been restored and used in our current shop window display in the city centre.
Rowan has given us the following information about water wheels:
Water wheels are of tremendous historical importance in Sheffield, operating grinding and forging works in the metal trades.Â We already have the two priceless gems ofÂ Shepherd Wheel and Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet, but the Kelham Island project will be more than a museum exhibit.Â It will generate green electricity for the local community and will be the return of productive water wheel operation in Sheffield.
The Kelham Island wheel will be of the Zuppinger design that dates from the 1870s. Â Â This type of wheel has curved blades that enter and leave the water with the minimum of drag/resistance which is necessary for undershot water wheels;Â simple radial paddles are now outdated technology.Â This beautiful design was developed in Germany at the time when water wheels were on the way out, with steam taking over as an industrial power source, it therefore never established itself in the UK.