Holme Head Wheel, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, S6 5PN.

Holme Head Wheel, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, S6 5PN

Former water-powered grinding Wheel and water management system

Holme Head Wheel and associated water management system are the remains of a water-powered site that dates from the 1740s and was used for grinding (mainly knives and razors). The building was disused by 1936 and subsequently demolished, but now Holme Head Wheel is one of only a few of the sites along the Rivelin valley where substantial remains of the building layout, with wheel pit and wheel spindle, can be seen. An archaeological excavation in 2009 by the Department of Archaeology at the University of Sheffield found many broken knife blade blanks here.

The water management system extends to the north-east and south-west of the site of the former mill buildings, feeding from and into the adjacent river. There is a steep stone weir. The mill dam is quite large and mostly overgrown, although still holds water. The tail goit runs in a culvert beneath the path before emerging into the river just above the modern stepping stones, initially separated from the river by edge-set slabs joined by wrought-iron straps, one of only three sites in the valley that had this arrangement.

Holme Head Wheel is situated on the south-east side of the river, between Glen Bridge (at the “S”-bend on Rivelin Valley Road) and Roscoe Bridge. The site is owned by Sheffield City Council and there is open access. A public footpath (the Rivelin nature and heritage trail) passes the site and runs along the dam wall. The trail can be accessed from various points along Rivelin Valley Road, or from the north (Stannington) side of the valley.

A marker post installed at the site by Rivelin Valley Conservation Group gives a brief history and links to a website where further information and pictures can be found. An information board with pictures explains the history of the site.

Holme Head Wheel is one of the 20 water-powered mills built in the Rivelin Valley (search for ‘Rivelin Waterpower Sites’ on this website for more details). This sequence of Rivelin mills and mill dams forms an essential part of Sheffield’s heritage. They also have a broader national and even international significance in relation to the history of the Industrial Revolution in Sheffield.

Further information and pictures of Holme Head Wheel and other sites in the Rivelin valley can be found at https://rivelinvalley.org.uk/rivelin-trails-2/. See also the books ‘Walking the Rivelin’, by Sue Shaw and Keith Kendall (6th edition, 2019, Rivelin Valley Conservation Group) and ‘Water Power on the Sheffield Rivers’, by C. Ball, D. Crossley, N. Flavell (Editors), (2nd Edition (2006), South Yorkshire Industrial Society).