Mousehole Forge, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, S6 5FF.
Mousehole Forge, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, S6 5FF
Former water-powered forge and water management system
Mousehole Forge and associated water management system are the remains of a water-powered forge dating from the 1620s (perhaps before). The main site now comprises the derelict remains of the forge complex, together with the house (still occupied) and a long, low building that was a workshop/store.
There were originally two lead mills (‘smelting houses’) and a farmhouse (part of the present house) that incorporated a small cutlery workshop. By 1664 the lead mill had been converted to an iron forge and by the end of the 18th century the forge was producing anvils, many of which were exported to the USA. Anvil making as an industry started at Mousehole Forge, which for over a century (possibly two), is thought to have been the only works of its kind in the world. It was the first to specialise in anvil making and to make any attempt at standardising the shapes of anvils used for different purposes.
Along with vice-legs and sledgehammers, anvils were made using water-powered hammers until 1933, when the forge closed. Some buildings were demolished in the 1940s and much of the site fell into ruin. The remnants of the former forge complex, along with parts of the surviving timber belly-helve hammer and a puddling furnace, are considered to be of national significance and are designated as Scheduled Ancient Monument (SY1284); the workshop range is Grade II listed. However, as yet, the rest of the site has no official designation
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. The block-stone weir is still in good condition. The drained mill dam is now well wooded. The massive stone blocks that are the remains of the overflow sluice can be seen by the side of the footpath. The tail goits are culverted under the path and flow into the river through arches in the river wall just above the Grogram weir.
Mousehole Forge is located on the north side of the river near to Malin Bridge, between Rivelin Valley Road and Stannington Road, across the river from the Fire Station. The main site is privately owned, but may be visited by appointment. The mill dam and adjacent land is owned by Sheffield City Council and there is open access – a public footpath (the Rivelin Nature 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.
Mousehole Forge 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 Mousehole Forge 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), ‘Water Power on the Sheffield Rivers’, by C. Ball, D. Crossley, N. Flavell (Editors), (2nd Edition (2006), South Yorkshire Industrial Society) and ‘Mousehole Forge’ by Postman, Hatfield & Hatfield (2003).