Set in the picturesque South Yorkshire valley of the Porter Brook, Shepherd Wheel is a unique working example of Sheffield’s knife grinding industry.
It was one of many small water-powered grinding workshops along Sheffield's rivers and is the earliest complete example of this industry with evidence dating it back to the 1500s.
By 1794, there were over 115 workshops of various kinds in existence along the rivers of Sheffield; today, Shepherd Wheel is almost all that remains of these small-scale sites.
Now a Grade II listed building, Scheduled Ancient Monument and free museum, visitors can see the tools of the trade and the restored working waterwheel and machinery in action, as well as hear stories of the grinders who worked at Shepherd Wheel over the centuries.
Visitors can stroll along the edge of the stunning dam where water is diverted from the River Porter, and follow the flow to the water wheel.
The wheel itself is an astonishing 5.5 metres high and 2 metres wide, and is made of cast and wrought iron, elm, oak and bronze.
The water to turn the wheel comes from the large dam where water is diverted from the River Porter. The waterwheel turned twenty grindstones and several “glazing” stones, and powered two grinding workshops.
In these workshops, in dark, damp conditions, skilled grinders produced fine, sharp cutting edges. It was not until the 1930s that grinding ceased and the Wheel's pivotal role in Sheffield's cutlery industry ended.