The Roscoe Wheel was built in 1725 and was mostly used for grinding fenders and saws. The upper floor of the two-storey building was used as a polishing shop. It was in use until at least 1922 but derelict by 1936. A row of cottages under Roscoe Bank stood adjacent. The nearby Roscoe Bridge was built in the early 19th century and is Grade II listed.
A few remains of the buildings can still be seen, as well as the wheel pit arch and outfall from the pit into the tail goit (culverted underground). The weir is particularly unusual, having a long, dressed stone slope and two top kerbs, the upper one being a double-arc .
History (C. 1750S–1950s)
Also known as: Holme-Intack Wheel, Hoole’s Wheel, Willow Bank Wheel.
Main trades: Cutlery, fender, file & saw grinding; polishing; blacking mill.
The Roscoe Wheel was ‘newly erected’ in 1725, with William Hoole & Joseph Spooner its earliest tenants. Records of 1794 show 12 trows and 16 men employed. It was engaged for the best part of its working life in the fender and saw grinding trade, for which huge grindstones, up to 7 ft in diameter, were required. In 1835, a valuation listed a blacking mill*, steam engine and boilers. The Wheel was unusual in the valley, having a breast-shot waterwheel and a two-storey building. The upper floor, reached via steps in the bank behind, housed a polishing shop – a process that used wooden wheels with a leather belt, coated in glue and powdered emery, running around them. In 1830, there seems to have been a second, smaller, building between the main building and the bridge, apparently driven by a second waterwheel.
A valuation of the forge in 1812 included a sketch showing the overshot waterwheel. In 1831 a 42-year lease was taken up by Joseph Oakes & Joseph Hawksworth, but by 1865 the Sheffield Waterworks Company had bought the property and Moss & Gamble (a well-known Sheffield name) were the tenants.
A row of cottages under Roscoe Bank stood beside the Wheel. On the side of one of these cottages were painted the words “HOT WATER FOR TEAS” – this was supplied by the tenants to the many weekend picnickers escaping into the valley from the city, and no doubt provided a good source of extra income for them.
Roscoe Wheel was used until at least 1922 and recorded as derelict in 1936.
What's there now?
Roscoe weir is still in good condition and is particularly unusual: the long, dressed stone slope has three changes of gradient, and there are two top kerbs – the upper one is a double-arc which is unique in Sheffield, apparently built to help protect the second kerb by causing silt to be deposited further upstream.
Some iron-work survives on top of the large stone slabs of the head-goit inlet. The short head goit now feeds into a stream that flows along the bottom of the hillslope at the edge of the now dry and wooded mill dam and to the river via the wheel pit/tail goit and the overflow.
A capstan and roller are mounted on the massive stone blocks of the overflow (near Roscoe Bridge). A small stream passes through the overflow, under the path and out into the river through a rectangular culvert.
Remains of the building can still be seen as well as the wheel pit arch and outfall from the pit into the tail goit (culverted underground). A curved groove in the wall of the wheel pit gives some idea of the size of the wheel.
The tail goit is culverted until about 50 m below the wheel pit, and then runs along the base of the hill slope and into the river close to the New Dam weir.
Nature and wildlife at Roscoe Wheel
A stream runs through the large mill dam, now silted up and overgrown with trees including Alder, Beech, Sycamore and Willow.
Roscoe Wheel was linked to the hamlet at Clough Fields (Crosspool) via a cart track and the bridge, and to Stannington and Bradfield by the footpath that winds up the steps behind the Wheel into Roscoe Bank Plantation.
This mature woodland is popular with squirrels as well as both resident woodland birds and summer migrants like Wood Warbler and Blackcap.
The Roscoe Plantation Allotments provide valuable additional wildlife habitats in this area, particularly for birds and butterflies.
Art at Roscoe Wheel
New Dam inlet and shuttle, with Roscoe Wheel and cottages behind. Painting by G. Hattersley Pearson (1858–1937). Rotherham Heritage Services.