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This site is first recorded in 1556 as a water powered ironworks making knives in ‘Porters Field’. The owner was Roger Barnsley. His son Thomas inherited the wheel on his father’s death.
In 1584 William Beighton of Stumper Lawe was leasing the ‘Porter Wheel’ site from the Earl of Shrewsbury. A dispute over ownership between the Earl and Nicholas Strelley in 1587 suggests parts of the site – a row cottages near ‘Greystone Clyffe’ (Ecclesall) – crossed over the township boundary.
The Brighton’s continued to operate the site until 1637 when they formed a partnership with Ralph Pursglove and William Forest which continued into the 1650s. Between 1664 and 1679 the wheel was not being rented. Then rentals resume but at reduced rates which may suggest that the site had reduced in size.
The name Shepherd Wheel appears in 1759 when Edward Shepherd took over the lease and he paid three times the previous rental level. In 1769 a new stone wheel house was built. The site contained ten troughs by 1794 when Edward died and his son-in-law (Thomas Kinnersley) took out a lease for 63 years with Anthony Thompson as manager.
John Eyre had been reassigned the lease by 1800 and his tenants took over the operation of the site. In 1811 Eyre bought the freehold from the Norfolk estate.
In 1864 Robert Younge took over the site and he bequeathed it to his nephew (Francis Otter) in 1875. Otter began the process of transferring ownership to Sheffield Corporation in the late 1890s, this was not completed until 1907.
Thomas Hinde and his son Henry and two cousins continued to work at the wheel until 1930.
Shepherd Wheel was restored first by the CCSA in 1960 and again in 2012 using funds raised by Friends of Porter Valley.
What is visible now?
Shepherd Wheel is now operated by Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust in partnership with Friends of Porter Valley. Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust also operate Abbeydale Industrial Hamlet Museum on the River Sheaf and Kelham Island Museum on the River Don.
The Shepherd Wheel dam is on the Sheffield Round Walk footpath. Shepherd Wheel is open to visitors at weekends when the two grinding workshops are open. The water wheel has recently been restored and an outside viewing area has been constructed at the rear of the grinding hull.
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Restoration of Shepherd Wheel -1 by Friends of Porter Valley
Restoration of Shepherd Wheel -2 by obscureed
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Friends of the Porter Valley (www.fopv.org.uk)
Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust (www.simt.co.uk)