Rivelin Valley Conservation Group and Ruskin in Sheffield
Dating from the 17th century, Spooners Wheel was one of the earliest to be built in the valley and was mainly used for grinding files, saws, fenders, scythes and cutlery. There were two mill houses, each with its own waterwheel, standing where the Rivelin Park Café is today.
Spooners Wheel was in use until about 1930, but the building was in ruins by 1936. The children’s play area above the café was built on the site of Spooners mill dam in the 1950s
Also known as: Holme Wheel, Rivelin Bridge Wheel, Rivelin Wheel, Spooners Wheels.
Main trades: Grinding files, saws, fenders, scythes and cutlery; knife forge.
Dating from at least 1637 (possibly before), Spooners Wheel was amongst the earliest to be built in the valley. The two mill houses, each with its own waterwheel located between the two buildings, stood where the Rivelin Park Café is today. The Websters of Cloughfields held a lease from at least 1637, but the first record of the Spooner family here is in 1716, when a lease names William Spooner and James Bromley. In 1794, a lease shows 16 trows, employing 24 men. Four fender trows, two saw trows, three file trows and five cutlers’ trows were recorded in 1814.
The mill dam at Spooners Wheel was small and the amount of water retained was wholly inadequate to provide all the power needed, so the New Dam was constructed upstream in the early 1850s as a supplementary water supply.
In 1851, Spooners Wheel was sold by the Norfolk Estate to Thomas Blake, at which time there were 16 occupiers. Blake sold out to the Sheffield Waterworks Company only a few years later. In 1854 a new waterwheel on the north side was listed as 17 ft x 5 ft. In 1896 the south side was leased to Samuel Staniforth and in 1898 the north side to Joseph Simpson. By 1909 Samuel Staniforth owned the lease for both sides and reserved the right to convert the New Dam into public swimming baths. The last person working at Spooners Wheel is thought to be a Mr Dawson (c. 1930) and the site was in ruins by 1936.
The mill dam was originally fed by a long head goit all the way from the weir above what is now the New Dam. Part of the goit was taken through a tunnel, which still exists, in the high ground between the New Dam and Spooners Wheel mill dam. A hole has opened up in the bank in the last few years which shows the location of this tunnel – this can be seen from the south side of the river. The children’s playground was built on the site of the mill dam in the 1950s. No traces remain of the tail goit, which ran across what is now the grassed area in front of the café and straight into the Hollins Bridge Mill dam.