Conservation of the Great Laxey Wheel

The Isle of Man’s most iconic historic monument, The Great Laxey Wheel, is currently undergoing conservation and repair.

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 22m (72.5 feet) diameter structure found immediate popularity and has remained one of the Island’s most iconic and dramatic attractions for over 150 years.

Conservation work has become necessary after a failure of one of the rods connecting the wheel with the T-rocker, with damage a result of age and weathering of timbers in the rod duct.

The rotational power generated by the movement of the wheel drove the rod, which is connected to a T-rocker at the top of the mine’s Engine shaft. The T-rocker changes the horizontal movement of the rod to the vertical movement of the pump rod in the mine shaft.  This transfer of force is what made the Laxey Wheel so effective in pumping the water from the shaft.

It is now necessary to undertake a systematic repair and replacement of the timbers making up the rod system, including the T-rocker itself.  This requires a high degree of technical competency because the difficulties of access for such large sections of timber and iron makes it a logistically challenging project to undertake.

Maintenance of the wheel requires a massive scaffolding structure which stands independent of the Wheel so that the wheel is not put under stress. The use of cranes and other specialist equipment will require that the public be excluded from the area during key operations.

As the Isle of Man’s borders have been closed for large parts of the current year (2021) this offers an opportunity to undertake the work later in 2021 and early 2022 with only minimal disturbance to the Visitor Economy, with the complex reopening for the Summer 2022 visitor season.

A Consulting Engineer is now working on the project, with cork scheduled to commence in two phases:

Autumn 2021: Repairs and redecoration to the wheel and wheel case

Winter 2021 – Spring 2022: Repairs to the rod system

In advance of works commencing, the wheel complex will be reopen from 16 July 2021, with further information available here.

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