Rivelin Valley Conservation Group and Ruskin In Sheffield LogoHolme Head Wheel

Rivelin Valley Conservation Group

Introduction

The remains of the Holme Head wheel pit and workshop are some of the best in the valley. The mill dam is quite large and mostly overgrown, although still holds water. It now provides a haven for wildlife.

Holme Head Wheel was mainly used for grinding cutlery and razors. The first recorded use was in 1742 when it was leased to Nicholas Morton & William Shaw. By 1936 it was disused but still in good condition. An archaeological excavation in 2009 found many broken knife blade blanks here.

Image of the Rivelin trail passing Holme Head mill dam.

The Rivelin trail passing Holme Head mill dam. Photo: Sue Shaw, May 2015.

HISTORY (C. 1740S–C. 1930s)

Main trades: Grinding (mainly knives and razors).

The first record for this location is for a lease in 1742 to Nicholas Morton & William Shaw. It was subsequently taken over by Spooners and by 1794, Cadman & Co (razor makers) were running 11 trows and employing 15 men. The waterwheel was 11 ft diameter by 8 ft wide (c. 3.4 m x 2.4 m).

Holme Head Wheel was unusual in the valley as, together with Mousehole Forge, it did not originally belong to the Manor of Sheffield but to the Manor of Owlerton. By 1905 the site was owned by Sheffield Waterworks Company, who let it to several tenants. It was disused but still in good condition in 1936.

In July 2009, the University of Sheffield Archaeology Department conducted a survey here and archaeology students excavated the small water-powered grinding workshop. The excavations revealed the concrete floor with grinding trows set into the floor, one of which contained a riveted metal frame and hooks for the chains which secured the wooden seat (known as a horsin) to the floor. Many broken knife blade blanks were found here.

Image of the Rivelin trail passing Holme Head mill dam.

Holme Head Wheel in about 1923; stepping stones made of old grindstones cross the river nearby. Sheffield City Council, Libraries Archives and Information: www.picturesheffield.co.uk Image s10354. The current set of stepping stones cross the river just above the Roscoe weir, about 100 m downstream of this location.

Image of interior of Holme Head Wheel.

Interior of Holme Head Wheel, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield. Painting by Joseph Wrightson MacIntyre; oil on canvas, 1879. Courtesy of Museums Sheffield. This painting gives an excellent insight into working conditions in a grinding workshop in the mid-19th century.

Image of Holme Head Wheel and mill dam in about 1931.

Holme Head Wheel and mill dam in about 1931. Sheffield City Council, Libraries Archives and Information: www.picturesheffield.co.uk Image y00553. Greenhouses can be seen to the left, on the opposite bank of the river, in an area that was once used as a market garden.


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