“The heyday of the water mill in Sheffield was in the late 1700’s when the streams were often so crowded that the tail goit of one mill fed the dam of the next.”It is true there were a many water driven mills on the river Porter as it is possible to build, so that the maximum amount of water power could be generated from this relatively small river that flows off the gritstone moors south-west of Sheffield. The head goit that feeds the Shepard wheel dam arises at the bridge where the tail goit of the no longer existing leather mills rejoins the Porter River. The tail goit of the Shepard wheel dam rejoins the Porter only 10 yards above the sluice and weir for the head goit of the Ibbotson dam, which still exists as a duck pond, although the wheel and mill buildings have been demolished.
All along the Porter the 5 mills follow on another as closely as possible.From the evidence that I saw on my trip to the Shepherd Wheel it is clear that the river was as full as possible with water driven mills and that the tail goit of one mill is very close to the dam of the next mill. Later, when steam power was used to drive the mills they were moved into the town centre, a more convenient location, as they were now not dependent on water flow down hill. The mills then fell into disrepair, although the water workings survived. The is enough evidence to support the first section of the soure “The heyday of the water mill in Sheffield was in the late 1700’s”, there are various different plaques what prove that the heyday of water mills was in the 1700’s.Source B:”The inhalation of the dust of the stone and steel is so pernicious, that the life of a dry grinder scarcely averages over 35 year, while that of a wet grinder is seldom prolonged to more that 45 years”…
“There are many accidents from stones breaking and catching the grinders. Often broken legs are a result and sometimes an early death.”Grinding edges onto knife blades was the work of the men who worked in the Shepard’s Wheel. At Shepherds Wheel there were wet grinders and dry grinders, wet grinding is when the wheel turn’s in a shallow amount of water to keep the gritstone wheel cool and stop the knife from being heat damaged or scorched, the main factor wet grinding was used was to prevent the dust coming of the gritstones and hovering round the air only to be sucked in by the grinders.The gritstone and steel ground off mixed with the water used in wet grinding formed a sludge that is collected in front and all around the grinder. The dust given off in dry grinding was very dangerous to the grinders as it got into their lung and caused asthma, and eventually an early death. To improve conditions the mill had large window that opened to allow the dust to escape.
Dry grinding for smaller blades such as penknives and razors created even more dust and was even more dangerous.However even wet grinders had to use the Hack hammer to true up their grindstones, and this created lots of dangerous dust. Grinding was carried out by sitting and leaning forwards on a saddle over the grindstone. Inside the first hull there is a sign informing the workers that the grinding wheels could come loose, come of and shatter this sign is evidence that there was a risk of the grinding wheels shattering and injuring or even killing workers. Even if the grindstone had faults in it or became uneven it could shatter. The death statistics for Sheffield show that wet and especially dry grinders died very young, and there is further evidence from gravestones as to how dangerous the wheels breaking were. The Shepard’s wheel has been restored, but as it is not working it is not dusty and does not seem very dangerous.
In Conclusion my trip to the shepherds Wheel does have some evidence of grinders being killed in work by grindstones shattering but there was no physical evidence to prove the age of which grinders died, but from my own knowledge and various recorces it is able to enstablish that the age at which dry grinders died was lower then the age at which wet grinders died but I was not able to get this evidence from my trip to the Shepherds wheel. Also I found no evidence on my trip that ” Often broken legs are a result”. Source B is correct but I couldn’t get the evidence from my trip to the Shepherds Wheel.Source C:”When it was realised how serious phthisis (grinders’ asthma) had become, a number of attempts were made to find ways of controlling the dust. One device was nicknamed the Fannie. It consisted of a box fitted with a long wooden chimney which was placed above the grindhouse” …
“When it was used, this apparatus worked well, but it was fairly expensive to install and the grinders complained that the box interfered with their work. Consequently, few wheel owners bothered to purchase the fannies and until grinding wheels were covered by the factory Acts (of 1867), there was nothing to compel them t do so.In the late 1700’s the water wheel only worked when there was enough water. It could not work if there was drought or the water froze. The mill was in the countryside and the windows were large. There were chimneys, these were for the fire hearth but they could possibly be used for the fannie and to help insulate the hull, there was no evidence of a fannie at the Shepard’s wheel. When the factories were steam driven they could work all year round and all day and night. They were also in town and had smaller windows.
The dust problem became worse. Although the grinders did not like the dust, they had to pay for their fannies to extract the dust and they got in the way and slowed them down, so they earned less. This meant they were unpopular and were not widely used until the law changed to protect the grinders, 100 years after Mr. Shepard and his factory on the Porter River.In conclusion of the evidence I saw on my visit to shepherds wheel, I do not think that there was enough evidence to support what is said in source C.
This is because I did not see a fannie in the shepherds wheel although there was one installed there was no evidence on my trip to shepherds wheel the only evidence of that could be seen on my trip of a fannie was of the chimney what very possibly could have been for the fire hearth.’A visit to the Upper Porter Valley is a useful way to learn about its water power and the cutlery industry in the early nineteenth century'(b)(i):”How useful are the various sites in the Upper Porter Valley for learning about water powered sites and the cutlery industry before 1850?”The upper Porter Valley stretches from the Porter River above the Forge Dam, past the Wire Mill dam and the leather dam site to the Shepard’s Wheel and the Ibbotson dam. Many people who visit this site are unaware of how important this little river was to the iron and cutlery industries in Sheffield 200 years ago.
This is because most of the buildings and wheels have disappeared and all that is left are the water works and most of the dams. To the uninterested or uninformed there is little left of the industry, but to those who look hard there is much information.The first site is the forge dam. Here iron and steel was made by Thomas Boulsover. The dam is unusual in that there is no head goit, the river flows straight in.
The lake, dam and overflow are intact, but the wheels that powered the bellows and water hammers are gone, as is most of the building. The cafï¿½ is part of the old buildings, and through the rear window the channel for one of the wheels can be seen. Below the dam, opposite the cafï¿½ is a flat stretch of grass. This is a silted up dam that is no longer water filled.Under the road bridge at Ivy Cottage Lane is a weir that raises the water level for a sluice to a head goit. This is very long, has recently been restored and runs partially underground, coming out at the wire mill lake. This was originally the site of Boulsover’s rolling mill, where the steel was rolled from ingot into sheet metal bars, prior to forging knives.
The overflow is intact at this lake, as is the dam and the Bolsover cottages. There is also a monument to Thomas Boulsover. The wheel and tail goit have disappeared. The lake is high above the river and would have been able to drive a very big overshot wheel.The leather mill site is now just a flat area of land.
None of the buildings have survived, but there is a goit, arising at a weir and sluice under the road bridge and running next to the path. A tree on the site was planted in 1901, so the building must have disappeared over 100 years ago.As the Leather mill goit rejoins the river, another weir feeds the head goit of the Shepard’s Wheel dam. This site is a museum and is the best preserved site. The wheel and pentrough are still intact as are the dam, the mill and overflow and the tail goit. The building houses two restored grinding hulls.
There are several grinding wheel, with horsing saddles to sit on and banding and pulleys to transfer the power of the wheel to the grindstone. The grindstones are in a trow, with a squatting board in front to catch the swarf of gritstone and ground metal. The wheel and grindstones were not turning when we visited. There are also smaller wheels made of wood that were covered in leather for rough and fine glazing after the blade had been ground.Beyond the tail goit of the Sheppard’s Wheel is the head goit to the Ibbotson mill.
This has an intact head goit, dam and overflow, but the wheel, buildings and tail goit have disappeared, to be replaced by a gas distribution station (new power replacing old!).Cutlery, in particular knives were made along the Porter. First there was a forge, to make steel and forge it, then a rolling mill. Once the blades were shaped they were ground, then whitened (more finely ground) followed by glazing and finally buffing to a shiny surface.
Finally the handle was added. All the steps except the last two took place along the Porter, using water power from the wheels.The water works are better preserved that the mills.
It is possible to gain an understanding of the way a water wheel was used by walking along the Porter valley, but an understanding of the steps in cutlery making is much more difficult to achieve.In conclusion of all the sites I think that Shepherd Wheel is by far the most use full site to visit if you are wanting to learn about water power and the cutlery industry in the nineteenth century, because it has the most historic information left, it has the 2 hulls (one used for grinding the other used for glazing), a dam, a wier, a water wheel and pentrough, slouse gates, a head goit and a tail goit and a overflow whereas the other sites do not have mills (hulls), but they all have some historic information what link the to water power and the cutlery industry . The only site that does not have any physical evidence of a dam is Leather mill, the pruposed site of a dam has now been silted over @@@@. I think that the sites overall are a good way to learn about waterpower and the cutlery industry.(b)(ii)Much of the evidence of the use of water power along the Porter River in the eighteen and nineteenth century still exists. Much has been lost, but due to its importance in the early industrial revolution in England, and Sheffield especially, much has been saved. The best example of saving and restoring is the Shepard’s Wheel, which has been restored nearly intact.
The overshot wheel is the only one still in existence, and it would be great to see it driving the gritstones again.Unfortunately the lake is nearly empty at the present time. At the present time there is suffiecent effiedence at Shepherds Wheel to provide us of a good understanding of the Porter valleys water powered and cutlery industry. Aswell as having the wheel and dam left it still has a overflow on the dam and slouse gates what can be recognized, there is also still physicall evidence of a pentrought and a head goit and tail goit there.Many of the sites have been saved as their use has been changed, into Duck ponds or fishing sites. The forge at forge dam is gone, but the building is still there, in use as a cafï¿½ and its storehouse, if you look through the window of the cafï¿½ there is a clear view of signs that there used to be a mill and/or a wheel there.
Because they are still attractive to local people and visitors, the goits, weirs and dams have been repaired and still work. The leather mill site and the lake opposite the cafï¿½ are the only areas that have completely changed.The city council has maintained the old roads as footpaths and bridleways and the area are enjoyed by young and old alike, even if they do not understand the rivers important industrial past. There is also the monument to Boulsover erected by the master cutler to remind people about the importance of the river, even though Boulsover’s old rolling mill site has been renamed the wire dam, from a later use of the site. There is therefore much evidence in the valley to provide a quite good understanding of water power, especially if you look hard.There is much less evidence to help you understand the cutlery industry in the Porter Valley.
The forge and rolling mills have gone. The grinding trow at the Shepard’s wheel is preserved, but is seldom open to the public and does not work at present, and some parts of the cutlery industry, such as buffing and putting on the handles, never were carried out in the Valley, these being industries carried out in the town center workshops. If you already know about cutlery making, the sites and names are interesting, but if you do not know about water powered cutlery making, a walk along the Porter Valley would teach you little.