A BRIEF HISTORY OF THE WHEEL
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Foreword by Pete Geddes - Project Leader

During early February 2003 the topic of the Snaefell Mines Waterwheel arose through the power of Pete Geddes...Email and to my surprise I learned that the wheel was still in existence and although under the ownership of the Trevithick Society in Cornwall, was lying idle in component form on a Welsh hillside.

This seemed to be something of a tragedy and so wrong as the wheel has a remarkable history and in fact was the fourth largest on the Island in the 1800ís.

 A light hearted enquiry was made to the Trevithick Society in late February which quickly developed into a potential project  with the understanding that the wheel could be returned on loan to the Isle of Man. This seemed an opportunity to good to miss. There could be no second chance to bring home one of our great wheels and indeed a most important piece of our industrial Heritage.

 Pete Geddes...

A Brief History of the Snaefell Wheel

In 1865 the Snaefell Mining Company placed an order with Messrs Leigh and Gilbert Howell of the Hawarden iron works in Bagillt, Flintshire for a fifty feet diameter water wheel.

This was one of two identical wheels to be made by the company. The first was christened Mary Ellen and was sent to the Van Mines in Llandiloes in Wales whilst her sister wheel was delivered to the Snaefell Mines to start her working life pumping water.

In 1910 the wheel had come to the end of itís working life for the Snaefell Mining Company and after disassembly she was sent to a china clay pit on Bodmin Cornwall where she became known as the Gawns Wheel and was reconstructed to work a Cornish plunger pump. The wheel was later modified to work a generator which in turn powered a submersible pump.

The wheel fell into disuse in the 1950ís and was abandoned by China Clay.

During the summer of 1971, the Cornish Wheel Preservation Society acquired the wheel and once more she was disassembled and the components were put into storage. The Wheel preservation Society later merged with the Trevithick Society who are the current owners of the wheel.

In 1976, a mining museum in Wales agreed to a term of loan for the wheel with a view of reconstructing her once again. To date, the wheel still lies on a Welsh hillside in her component form exposed to elements.

On the 15th of March 2003 the Trevithick Society held a counsel meeting from which there was a unanimous decision to let the wheel come home to the Isle of Man.

On the 20th September 2003 members of the LMRG and the Trevithick Society met at the Llywernog mining museum, at the invitation of the management, where the components of the wheel were successfully loaded by crane onto a large transporter vehicle (organised by Manx Independent Carriers).  The wheel arrived on Manx soil on Sunday 21st September 2003 after being away for approximately 95 years.

Copyright © snaefellwheel.com 2003