Monday, 9 April 2012

News - Wheel joy as £1m project completed (Sheffield)

AN ANCIENT agricultural wheel that last turned about 80 years ago has been brought back to life thanks to a £1 million project.

Shepherd’s Wheel, Whiteley Woods, Sheffield, has reopened to the public after three years of restoration by dedicated volunteers.

It was used to sharpen agricultural tools, knives and scythes before Sheffield’s reputation as the home of steel was even thought of.

And now it is attracting crowds of history lovers and fascinated youngsters after opening as a small-scale museum at weekends.

Ann le Sage, chairman of the Friends of Porter Valley, said: “It is unbelievable to see the wheel working again.
“It was our first project, it was a big one for us, and we are happy we’ve managed to bring this bit of history back to life again.

“I have never seen anything like it in my life, it’s fantastic.

“Visitors have been saying how wonderful it is.”

The wheel is believed to date back at least 500 years. Water from a mill pond turns an outside wheel which works the machinery inside.
It was last used commercially in the 1930s, but after that it fell into disrepair.

The Friends group started working with Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust and Sheffield Council to raise the money needed and undertake complex restorations three years ago.

Half the money came from a Lottery grant and the rest was matched with fundraising or council cash.
Ann said: “Commercially, the wheel was last used in the 1930s.

“We had to build a new pond, that was the biggest job, with modern technology and specialists working on the machinery and there is an education centre there too.”

The wheel is staffed for tours at weekends, but the Friends are hoping more people will come forward to volunteer.

Ann said: “If anybody is interested in Sheffield history and would like to volunteer as a guide at weekends for a couple of hours we would love to hear from them.

To volunteer at the wheel call Ann le Sage on 07790 250087.


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