The ‘Round Dam’ at Hind Wheel is built in what seems to be a natural meander in the river, and is one of the most popular in the Rivelin valley. There are now few traces of the former buildings but in addition to the mill dam, which is full of water, the weir, head goit and tail goit can still be seen.
Hind Wheel is the earliest recorded site on the Rivelin, dating from around 1580. It was used for grinding cutlery and making metal inserts for ladies corsets. In the early 19th century the mill dam almost doubled in size to the round shape it is today. The site was last used in the 1930s.
History (C. 1580s–1930s)
Also known as: Hyne Wheel, Iron Wheel. [The Round Dam.]
Main trades: Cutlery grinding; metal inserts for ladies corsets.
The Hind Wheel is the first to be recorded within the valley, in a rental of 1581. It was occupied by Thomas Hine, Robert Webster & John Swynden, paying a rent of £1 per year. In 1772 there were six trows, but by 1794 there were ten trows (powered by a 15 ft (c. 4.57 m) fall of water) and 12 men employed.
In the early 19th century, the site was occupied by Joseph Greaves & John Tillotson, who often fell out over the use of water. It soon became obvious that the dam was too small, so in the 1820s the workshops were rebuilt and the mill dam almost doubled in size to the ‘round’ shape that it still is today.
In 1830 two waterwheels were noted: the southern, 11 ft 6 in diameter x 5 ft wide (c. 3.5 x 1.52 m), run by Greaves; the northern, 12 ft x 5 ft 6 in (c. 3.65 x 1.67 m), run by Tillotson. Each waterwheel ran eight grinding trows.
One of the waterwheels was still working in the 1920s. Steel strip for ladies corsets was being made here before the site was abandoned in the 1930s. In the early 1950s, the waterwheels were still in place but all of the surrounding buildings had collapsed (see photos below). The ruins of the buildings were removed and the area landscaped.
What's there now?
The curved weir, which is immediately upstream of the mill dam, is interrupted by two islands with trees. A modern valve on the entry feeds water into the mill dam via a very short head goit.
The mill dam is maintained for recreation and the footpath goes around the dam wall, close to the water’s edge. Water from the dam runs over a wide overflow, marked by metal plates across the path, with a steep fall into the river.
There are now few traces of the Hind Wheel buildings, which stood near another of the RVCG cast iron mill markers (see below).
The tail goit is culverted under the track and joins the river just above the Upper Cut weir.
The footbridge known as ‘One Man Bridge’ just below Hind Wheel carry the trail back across the river. Beside the footbridge is a ford where the bridleway joining Hagg Lane to Rivelin Valley Road crosses the river.
Look out for the cast-iron mill marker commissioned by the RVCG and designed by Sheffield sculptor Roger Gibson to represent various aspects of the valley – a wheel is mounted on a plinth that depicts a seed-pod emerging from the ground, with flowing water cascading downwards over weirs. Four markers were installed in the valley in 2007: the marker here depicts a fork, the marker at Upper Coppice a spoon, that at Walkley Bank Tilt a scythe blade and at Rivelin Corn Mill an ear of corn.
Nature and wildlife at Hind Wheel
Hind Wheel is a good spot for a picnic or just to sit quietly and watch for Dippers or Heron feeding in the river above the ford or for a Treecreeper searching the bark for grubs. This mill dam is also a haven for dragonflies and at dusk one of the many popular feeding places for the large number of bats within the valley. Great Woodrush grows in abundance on the bank opposite the overflow.
The mill dam was dredged for fishing in 1967, at which time a Carp weighing over 30 lbs was rescued. It is still used for fishing, but after losing most of the fish in the 1990s when the shuttle gate gave way and the water drained out, it is mostly now stocked with small trout. As a result of the heavy storms in the winter of 2013–14, a hole formed in the dam wall near to the overflow. This was quickly and expertly repaired by a member of the RVCG, thereby averting a collapse.
About half way round the mill dam a narrow stream that originates higher up the hill on Bell Hagg, runs down the steep bank on the far side of the river. A Whitebeam has fallen across the river here – look for clusters of white flowers in spring and reddish fruits in autumn.
The delta of silt forming at the inlet-end of the mill dam is overgrown with plants including Brooklime, Figwort, Forget-me-not, Great Hairy Willowherb and Iris, with Horsetails expanding into the open water. When the mills were in operation the horsetails were regularly cleared from the mill dams in the valley.
In 2012, the invasive plant Floating Pennywort was found in the Hind Wheel mill dam. A native of North America, it was first found naturalised in Essex in 1990 (probably discarded from a garden pond), and is now rapidly increasing across the country as it is easily spread from small fragments. Left unchecked, this plant can completely choke waterways, and so attempts are being made to control its spread. If you see any Floating Pennywort elsewhere in the Rivelin Valley, even small plants, please let us know so that we can take appropriate action to remove it.
A Bird Cherry tree and Pink Purslane grow on the bank to the right of the path a short distance upstream of the weir.