Walkley Bank Tilt, Rivelin Valley, Sheffield, S6 5FY

Former grinding wheel and water management system

Walkley Bank Tilt and associated water management system are the remains of a water-powered site that was initially used for cutlery grinding, but subsequently converted to a tilt* forge and then wire-drawing mill. Dating from 1751, 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. Only traces of the buildings survive, but the weir, mill dam and tail goit can still be seen.

The site is owned by Sheffield City Council and there is open access – there is a small car park adjacent to the mill dam, one of five dams in the valley where open water is maintained, and a public footpath (the Rivelin Nature Trail) 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. It remains a focal point for the valley and is a regular starting point for walks along the river. The mill dam (now known as Havelock Dam) is also popular for fishing and feeding the ducks.

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.

The site is situated on the east side of the River Rivelin, to the north-west of Sheffield City Centre. The water management system extends to the north-west and south-west of the site of the mill buildings, feeding from and into the adjacent river.

Also known as: Hallam Wheel, Havelock Steel & Wire Mills, Walkley Tilt. [The mill dam is currently known as Havelock Dam]

Walkley Bank Tilt 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.

Walkley Bank Tilt was one of the last in the valley to close, in the early 1950s and thus one of the few in the valley to have been working within living memory, although by then powered by electricity. The weir is in good condition and there is a modern shuttle gate on the head goit inlet. Most of the buildings stood between the mill dam and the Mousehole weir, but few traces of the once-thriving mill now remain. The outfall from the short tail goit is close to the Mousehole weir, the exit from the forge building marked by a bricked-up stone arch halfway between the mill dam and the weir.

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 Walkley Bank Tilt 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).

* A tilt hammer is pivoted like a see-saw – a cam mechanism pushes the tail end down, thereby raising the hammer end, then releases so that the hammer falls by gravity. A rapid stroke rate could be achieved, making tilt hammers suitable for drawing iron down to small sizes suitable for the Sheffield cutlery trades.