2022 has begun with a flurry of activity at the Great Laxey Wheel, where contractors have commenced work on a project to repair and conserve the iconic waterwheel.
Designed by the Victorian engineer, Robert Casement, the wheel was completed in 1854 to pump water from the depths of the Laxey mines using water from Glen Mooar to power the wheel. The impressive 22.1m (72.6 feet) diameter structure found immediate popularity and has remained one of the Island’s most iconic and dramatic attractions for 168 years.
John-Paul Walker, Historic Buildings Architect for Manx National Heritage, the charity responsible for the Island’s natural and cultural heritage said:
“Following a competitive tendering process, we are delighted to be working alongside Auldyn Construction, who will undertake phase 1 of the project. This will see old render and defective timbers replaced and the wheel, housing, railings and viewing platform re-painted. Works will take place over a four-month period.
We are also delighted and extremely grateful for the assistance of the Laxey Mines Research Group, whose expert volunteers will be undertaking essential preparatory works for the second phase of the conservation work. The Laxey Mines Research Group have been directly involved with the Laxey site since the 1980s and bring unparalleled expertise and knowledge to the project. The second phase of the works will see repairs to the T-rocker, along with the rods, bogies and rod duct”.
Plans are being put in place for managed public access to see these major conservation works as they happen, providing a fascinating insight into the skills and challenges involved in the repair and conservation of this iconic monument. Conservation work of this scale to the Lady Isabella only take place once or twice in a lifetime and the commencement of this project marks a significant moment in, not only the history of the Laxey Wheel but also in our Island’s history.
This unique conservation project to get the iconic Laxey Wheel turning again is jointly funded by Manx National Heritage and the Isle of Man Government. It offers a rare opportunity to study and work on one of the Isle of Man’s most treasured ancient monuments and the largest working water wheel in the world, which will re-open in time for TT 2022.