Shepherds Wheel / by Heather Sutton

A rare gem from Britain’s industrial past has been given a new lease of life thanks to Maysand. An historic waterwheel, believed to date back to the 16th Century, has re-opened as a working museum in Autumn 2011 after being lovingly restored to its former glory.

Based in Endcliffe Park in Sheffield, Shepherd Wheel is a scheduled monument of huge historical importance because it is the last surviving example of its type in the UK.

The renovation project comprised four key phases and we were entrusted with looking after phase two, which involved restoring the main building housing the wheel.

Paul Bangert, Contract Administrator for the Architects’ Practice at Sheffield City Council, said: “Shepherd Wheel is a very small building but from a heritage point of view, it’s extremely important.

“This is the only remaining example of early domestic scale industrial heritage in Sheffield and this particular design is unique.

“With that in mind, we needed to enlist the services of a specialist contractor that understood the historical importance of such a site. The kind of work involved in a project of this nature requires a light touch so we could not risk putting this job in the hands of a standard contractor.

“After a five-way pitch, we decided to go with Maysand and I cannot praise them highly enough for the work they havecarried out. The standard of the workmanship has been first class and we have found them to be an excellent company to work with.

“We recently had a visit from a scheduled monument inspector, who are notoriously very particular. However, Maysand were perfect in the way they handled it, talking him through the project in very practical terms. When he went away, he was very happy because he clearly knows good quality workmanship when he sees it.”

Some of the work we carried out at the site included repairs to the roof, doors and window frames, creating a new viewing area, treating all of the timberwork, underpinning to the front of the building, and painting, using traditional lime paints.

Site foreman David Beese said: “It was quite a challenging project to be involved in. The building dates back to the 16th Century so we have worked very closely with the architects, historians and archaeologists to ensure everything is in keeping with how it should be.”

Historians believe Shepherd Wheel dates back more than 400 years. Until 1930, the wheel, which is 5.5 metres high and 2 metres wide and is made of cast and wrought iron, elm and oak and bronze, was used to power two grinding workshops, which made blades from Sheffield steel. After local historical societies campaigned for its restoration, the site was re-opened as a museum in 1962.

However it closed again in 1997 and was then placed under the management of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust 12 months later.