Drawing by A. Chattle showing Hollins Bridge Mill.
Drawing by A. Chattle showing Hollins Bridge Mill.

Introduction

Hollins Bridge Mill dates from around 1724, and was mainly used for grinding cutlery, fenders and optical glass, although it was converted to a corn mill in the 19th century. The mill survived into the 20th century, but had become little used by 1936.

In the early 20th century, the course of the river was changed so that it flowed directly through the former mill dam and a new, wide weir was built across the river at the downstream end to maintain the head of water to power the waterwheel. This weir, located just upstream of Hollins Bridge, is one of the longest in the valley.

Paddling pools were built on the south side of the river in the 1950s when the whole area was landscaped as part of the Festival of Britain. In 2013, the paddling pools were fully refurbished by Sheffield City Council and reopened as ‘Rivelin Valley Water Play’.

History (C 1720s–1930s)

Also known as: Chadburn Wheel, Hollins Bridge Corn Mill, Rivelin Bridge Wheel.

Main trades: Grinding cutlery, fenders and optical glass; corn mill.

Hollins Dam and Building.
Hollins Dam and Building.

Hollins Bridge Mill was erected around 1724, and had six grinding trows. In 1794 Hague & Parkin employed nine men here. 20 years later, in 1814, the number of trows had increased to one fender trow, seven cutlers’ trows and an unknown number of glass trows, the latter being used by Chadburns for the grinding of optical glass lenses for use in glasses and telescopes. In 1860, the Wheel was sold to Sheffield Waterworks Company; by 1868 it had been converted to a corn mill and in about 1909 was being run by John Wilson, the owner of the Malin Bridge Corn Mill. It was noted in 1936 as being “little used”.

Hollins Bridge Mill.
Hollins Bridge Mill.

The course of the river originally ran through what is now the Rivelin Water Play area, being separated from the mill dam by a narrow embankment. A weir across the river, approximately in the location of the current bridge by the toilet block, deflected water into the head goit and thence into the mill dam.

New weir after the course of the river was altered.
New weir after the course of the river was altered.

In the early 20th century, around the time the ‘New Road’ was built along the valley, the course of the river was altered so that it flowed directly through the former mill dam. The head of water needed to turn the waterwheel was preserved by a new weir, which is one of the longest weirs in the valley. The width of the river at this point meant that raising the water level could increase considerably the amount of water available – the water level could be raised further by inserting wooden boards into metal cleats on the top of the weir. There were further changes in this area when the paddling pools were built in 1951.

What's there now?

The area was landscaped in the 1950s and little now remains of this mill and its original mill dam. The long weir across the river just upstream of Hollins Bridge was built in the early 1900s when the course of the river was altered (see History tab), and is one of the longest in the valley. The water level could be raised further by inserting wooden boards into metal cleats on the top of the weir – remains of four of these cleats can still be seen. The large stone structure on the north bank beside the weir is probably the remains of the intake / shuttle for the wheel pit.

The remains of the tail goit can still be seen under Hollins Bridge, joining the river on the downstream side of the bridge via a channel separated from the river by a series of stone slabs. This arrangement was needed to equalise the water levels in the tail goit and river to prevent water backing up the tail goit when river levels were high (which would prevent the waterwheel from turning). A similar stone wall can be seen on the tail goits at Holme Head Wheel and Third Coppice Wheel.

The RIVELIN VALLEY WATER PLAY area is on the south bank. The original Rivelin Valley Park, including the children’s playground on the site of the former Spooners mill dam and the paddling pools alongside the road, was created during the 1950s as part of the Festival of Britain. The paddling pools used water flowing in from the River Rivelin – the inlets can be seen just above the weir below the café. When the river level is low, the water inlets for the original paddling pools can be seen at the bottom of the wall just above the weir. The large ‘ruler’ (gauge board) fixed to the wall here is used by the Environment Agency to monitor water levels in the river.

In 2013, the paddling pools were fully refurbished by Sheffield City Council, and reopened as ‘Rivelin Valley Water Play’. The changes include a new toilet block, a new water filter system, improved access to the three large splash pads with anti-slip surfacing, a variety of water-play equipment, such as jets, sprinklers, bucket drops and water tables, and ramped access with handrails into the paddling pool. The improved facilities were partly funded by the ‘Aiming High for Disabled Children’ programme.

Nature and wildlife at Walkley Bank Tilt

The landscape here was changed by the diversion of the river through the original mill dam in the early 20th century and creation of the Rivelin Valley Park in the 1950s. On the north side of the river, the broad band of wetland vegetation between the path and river marks the former extent of the mill dam. In spring, look out for the white flower spikes of Bittercress here.

On the north bank of the river there are several old Ash and Oak trees near the path. Near the weir below the café, are a Weeping Willow, two Rowan trees and tall pines, and in summer at the river’s edge, the yellow flowers of the Monkey-flower.

Look out for large clumps of Pendulous sedge, especially under the trees on the bank between the river and Rivelin Valley Water Play area. The tall, nodding, catkin-like flower spikes appear from about May to July.

Mallard ducks can usually be seen along the stretch of river between the two weirs, and Grey wagtails sometimes feed in the shallows. A Grey heron is occasionally seen sitting on top of the long weir. The open grassy areas attract ground feeders such as Blackbird, and the margins of the surrounding undergrowth provide good habitat for butterflies. Also look and listen out for Thrush, Robin, Wren and various types of tit.

A water vole was recently (2015) seen on the river bank. This is the first record in the valley for many years – please contact RVCG with any further sightings.

Just below Hollins Bridge, there is a multi-trunked Bird Cherry tree – this has white flowers in spring and dark purple/black cherry-like fruits in autumn.

Location