Little London Wheel, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, S6 5PZ

Former grinding wheel and water management system

Little London Wheel and associated water management system are the remains of a water-powered site that was used for cutlery and file grinding. It was erected as a cutler’s Wheel in around 1752, and is thought to have been used for cutlery and file grinding until it was demolished in 1911. It is one of the 20 water-powered mills built in the Rivelin Valley that now form an important part of Sheffield’s industrial heritage.

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.

The site is situated on the south-east side of the River Rivelin, to the north-west of Sheffield City Centre. 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.

Little London Wheel and associated water management system are part of a sequence of 20 water-powered mills (and 21 mill dams) along a 3½ mile (5.6 km) stretch of the lower Rivelin Valley, possibly the greatest density of mills over that distance in Britain. These sites together help to tell the story of Sheffield’s industrial heritage, and cutlery trade in particular, from its origins in rural workshops with water-powered grindstones. Apart from Uppermost Wheel, the furthest upstream of the 21 sites, remains of all of the others can still be seen and together they form a sequence along the valley that should be preserved in its entirety.

Little London Wheel was one of the smallest sites in the valley and one of the later Wheels to be built. Trees now grow in the former mill dam, which is largely dry apart from a stream running through from the head goit entry (at the weir) to the overflow. The stream is also fed from the Nether Cut tail goit via a culvert. The well-preserved overflow is marked by a small bridge but the stonework and remains of the building footings and wheel pit are hard to make out amongst the undergrowth. The steep stone weir, which is located immediately upstream of the overgrown mill dam, is in fair condition. There is a modern sluice gate on the head goit inlet and remains of a staple can be seen on the lintel.

The lower Rivelin Valley forms part of a green corridor along the River Rivelin stretching from the urban area at Malin Bridge into the Peak District. A continuous nature and heritage trail weaves between the ruins for some 5 kilometres (3 miles), passing through woodlands and pastures that are also important for wildlife. It has open access for public recreation and attracts many Sheffield residents and visitors from outside the City, for informal recreation, education and research. The area has been designated ‘Rivelin Valley – City Heritage Park’ and is managed and maintained by the Sheffield City Council Parks and Countryside Service. Much of it (excluding allotment areas) has also been designated as a ‘Local Wildlife Site’.

Further information and pictures of Little London Wheel and other sites in the Rivelin valley can be found at http://rivelinvalley.org.uk/trail/index.php. 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).