The beech trees along the dam wall of Walkley Bank Tilt (Havelock Dam) provide rich autumnal colours. Photo: P. Machin, 2009.
The beech trees along the dam wall of Walkley Bank Tilt (Havelock Dam) provide rich autumnal colours. Photo: P. Machin, 2009.

Introduction

First leased to John Hoyland & Joseph Spooner in 1758, this site was initially used for cutlery grinding and later converted to a paper mill. By 1905 the site was empty.

The wide Third Coppice weir is one of the most attractive features of the Rivelin Valley. It uses a natural waterfall which has been raised by a single course of stone blocks stapled together. It can be crossed (with care) when water levels are sufficiently low.

The mill dam still holds water, but is silted and partially overgrown. It is hard to believe that there was once an extensive complex of buildings here, as the site is now largely obscured by landslip.

History (C. 1750s–1900s)

Also known as: Rivelin Paper Mill.

Main trades: Cutlery grinding; paper mill; rolling house.

The forebay at the end of the Third Coppice mill dam. Photo Sue Shaw, May 2016
The forebay at the end of the Third Coppice mill dam. Photo Sue Shaw, May 2016

The first lease for Third Coppice Wheel was in 1758 to John Hoyland & Joseph Spooner for 21 years. By 1794, the lease had passed to William Creswick who employed four men at four cutlers’ trows, but by 1814, when it was converted to a paper mill, there were 13 trows.

Paper-making (from rags) at this mill required good clean water, which was brought across from the Black Brook (on the opposite side of the river) in an aqueduct from just above the Black Brook waterfall.

In 1852 the property comprised one paper mill, two drying houses, a rope shed, a long rolling house, stables and cowshed, and a dwelling, along with several other buildings. Like Frank Wheel (next downstream), the last known lease for this property was to Horatio & Thomas Marsden in 1889. By 1905 both sites were described as empty.

King Edward VII Hospital

After King Edward VII died in 1910, the people of Sheffield donated £18,000 towards a memorial and it was decided to build a hospital for disabled children with the funds. The City Council provided extra cash and the Duke of Norfolk donated the land for the new hospital. The hospital, comprising 120–130 beds together with an operating theatre, kitchens and nurses quarters, received its first patients in 1916. The Hospital was known as the King Edward VII Hospital for Crippled Children, as reflected on an early map of the site. Initially the patients were children with tubercular joints and rickets but as the years passed the type of condition treated was extended to include congenital deformities and poliomyelitis. From 1922 patients were also admitted from outside Sheffield. In 1939 it was decided to admit adult patients suffering from surgical tuberculosis.

In 1944, towards the end of the Second World War, beds were made available for wounded officers and both children and the officers seemed to benefit from each other’s company. Also in that year the Hospital was recognised as a nurses’ training hospital. In 1948, following the establishment of the National Health Service, the Hospital was renamed the King Edward VII Orthopaedic Hospital and additional facilities were introduced, including two new ward blocks, bedrooms for members of staff, and a workshop. A hydrotherapy pool was added in 1956. By then the hospital compared favourably with almost any in the Country.

The Hospital was closed in 1992 and converted for residential use after planning permission was granted in 1997. The hospital building, the entrance lodge, boiler house and one of the outbuildings are all Grade II listed.

What's there now?

The weir uses a natural waterfall raised by a single course of stone blocks stapled together. Look out for the large metal straps holding the stone blocks together along the top.

The head goit is very short, now with a modern shuttle gate on the entry. The mill dam still holds water, but is silted and partially overgrown. The overflow (now crossed by stepping stones built by the RVCG in 2001) is only a few metres from the head goit entry.

It is hard to believe that there was once an extensive complex of buildings here, as the site is now largely obscured by landslip. The bottom of the wheel pit was below the level of the river in order to increase the fall of water, thereby allowing a larger waterwheel to be used – in 1794 the wheel pit was recorded as having a fall of 18 ft 4 in (c. 5.6 m).

The long tail-goit (c. 150 m), which in the lower part is separated from the river by a low stone wall (now broken in places), allowed the fall in the river to match the water level in the tail goit and avoid water backing up the channel.

The Third Coppice weir uses a natural waterfall raised by a single course of stone blocks stapled together. Photo: Roger Kite, February 2011
The Third Coppice weir uses a natural waterfall raised by a single course of stone blocks stapled together. Photo: Roger Kite, February 2011

Nature and wildlife at Walkley Bank Tilt

In 1936 there were many Irises in the mill dam, but these have disappeared and it is now heavily shaded by Alder, Sycamore and Willow. Plants seen around this dam include Creeping Buttercup, Goose-grass, Nettle, Golden Saxifrage, Pendulous Sedge, Stitchwort and Water Mint.

Water was re-introduced to the Third Coppice mill dam by the RVCG in 2001 (with help from the Sheffield Conservation Volunteers), by re-building the collapsed overflow, topping with a new series of stepping-stones and fitting a new shuttle gate on the head goit entry.

Across the river from the weir there is a different type of woodland from that which edges much of the river. The trees are mainly oak but in the middle are some large Beeches. Beech casts a very heavy shade and has its main roots just below the surface, so that the undergrowth is sparse except for a few fungi in autumn. Here Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long-tailed Tit and Coal Tit may be seen, in pairs in summer or in larger mixed flocks in winter, with Goldcrest and Treecreeper. This part of the river is also a good place to watch for Dippers, particularly in spring and summer. These birds are rarely seen far from water; they perch on stones in the stream and bob up and down (‘dipping’) while feeding on small insects.

Alongside the river below the large field, look down at the river to see a low stone wall (covered in moss and Great Woodrush), which marks the end of the tail goit from Third Coppice Wheel.

A short way upstream from the field, look across the river to the waterfall on the Black Brook – this is one of the few streams that drain into the valley. Clean water from here was fed into the Third Coppice Wheel (Rivelin Paper Mill) via an aqueduct across the river. This is another good place from which to watch for birds.

Location