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Conservation of the Great Laxey Wheel

In 2022, Manx National Heritage completed the first phase of an extensive conservation programme, during which the Lady Isabella was carefully studied and conserved.  Procurement for the next phase in this momentous conservation project has now commenced and will see work undertaken on the wheel’s rod duct and T-Rocker.

 

 

In the first phase of the project old render and defective timbers suffering decay were replaced, ironmongery repaired and the wheel, housing, railings and viewing platform repainted.  Standing static during her conservation, the world famous wheel began turning again in autumn, concluding the first phase of the most comprehensive conservation project completed on Lady Isabella since her restoration almost 40 years ago.

This unique conservation project 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.  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.

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 22.1 (72.6 feet) diameter structure found immediate popularity and has remained one of the Island’s most iconic and dramatic attractions for over 150 years.

LATEST UPDATES

 

August 2023
Timbers have arrived for phase 2 conservation of the Great Laxey Wheel, where works will commence later this year to conserve and repair the wheel’s magnificent rod duct and T Rocker. 
The timber is all French grown & milled PEFC Certified & QPA Graded Fresh Sawn (Green) Oak. The longest timber is the new Upper Connecting Rod which will connect the top of the flat rod to the top of the T Rocker – it is 11m in length.
The rest of the smaller sections are the main connecting rods. The heaviest timber there is the new T Rocker Main (Bridging) Beam – it is 450 x 450mm square, 10m long and weighs roughly 2.5 metric tonne.
6 more timbers are due to arrive in a few weeks, these are the 6 bearing timbers for the T Rocker, which are 470 x 470mm square & 5m long – FSC Certified Greenheart. They will be over 1 metric tonne each.
Greenheart is a South American hardwood, one of the strongest and most durable timbers available (approximately twice the rating of European Oak), chosen for this application where it will be permanently exposed under significant load in very difficult conditions for any timber – hopefully they won’t need replacing for another 160 years. 
To support our work in completing incredible projects like this, take a moment to donate to our charity today. Your support is greatly appreciated. https://donate.manxnationalheritage.im
July 2023 EXPRESSIONS OF INTEREST SOUGHT 

Laxey Wheel Phase 2 Works – Repairs to duct rods, T rocker and masonry structure. The timescale of the works is anticipated to be 2nd October 2023 to 29th March 2024.

January 2023 GOOGLE ARTS AND CULTURE FEATURE LAXEY WHEEL’S CONSERVATION STORY

Our work on restoring the world’s largest working water wheel is now featured on Google Arts and Culture! This incredible story features voices of children from Laxey School , spectacular aerial footage and fabulous updates on the Laxey Wheel’s conservation story. Discover more.

12 October 2022 LAXEY WHEEL OPENING CEREMONY

The Great Laxey Wheel will be officially re-opened on Wednesday 12 October 2022, in the presence of His Excellency the Lieutenant Governor Sir John Lorimer, KCB DSO MBE and Lady Lorimer, MBE, following a tradition which began in 1854, when the wheel was first opened and named after the wife of the Island’s Lieutenant Governor, Lady Isabella Hope.

The wheel complex will remain open during this private event, although access to the wheel will be not be available from 3pm as we mark a moment the history for the Lady Isabella.

22 September 2022 Re-commissioning the Lady Isabella

Following a series of ‘wet’ test runs the world-famous waterwheel turned last week for the first time since September 2020, when Manx National Heritage began work on the most comprehensive conservation project completed on Lady Isabella since her restoration almost 40 years ago. Find our more.

7 – 9 Sept 2022 Access to viewing platform suspended for final repairs

Access to the viewing platform will be restricted from 7 – 9 September, when linkage timbers including the Southern Sweep-Arm and L-Rocker are scheduled to be craned into position. There will be no access to the top of the wheel during the installation works.

3 Sept 2022 Conservation work at Laxey Wheel is making good progress

From Saturday 3 September you can climb to the top of The Lady Isabella and take in the magnificent views.  Please note access to the viewing platform may be temporarily suspended to allow for final repairs to take place.

July 2022 A Milestone in the Lady Isabella’s History

Manx National Heritage will reach a milestone in the Laxey Wheel’s history during September when works will conclude in the area around the wheel casing. Scaffolding will be removed during August, with the wheel gradually revealed in all her glory.

Completion of this phase of the project marks a huge moment in the Laxey Wheel’s history and is an achievement for the Isle of Man to be incredibly proud of.  The wheel is unique, iconic and a cornerstone of our visitor experience.  It will be incredibly rewarding to see both local residents and visitors climbing the wheel’s staircase and seeing her turning once again.

July 2022 Hard Hat Tours Sold Out! 

This spring and summer, we offered the opportunity to join us at the Laxey Wheel for an in depth look into the conservation and repairs that are being carried out. Led by our contractors at Auldyn Construction, our tours offered the opportunity to discover the work taking place to get the Lady Isabella turning again, with all available tour dates selling out!

13 January 2022: Laxey Wheel Conservation Begins

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. Discover more…

27 September 2021: Contractors sought to make history conserving the Great Laxey Wheel

The search commences for a contractor to complete a crucial maintenance programme at the world’s largest working waterwheel, The Great Laxey Wheel. Discover more…

24 March 2021: Funding Plan agreed for Laxey Wheel repairs and maintenance

MNH is delighted to announce that it has agreed a plan with the Treasury to get the Laxey Wheel running again at the earliest opportunity. Discover more…

10 September 2020: The Wheel Stops Turning Once Again

The Isle of Man’s most iconic historic monument, The Great Laxey Wheel, has temporarily stopped turning after suffering a failure of one of the rods connecting the wheel with the T-rocker earlier this week.  The damage is a result of age and weathering of timbers in the rod duct.  Discover more…

2 August 2019: The Wheel is Feeling her Age

As the Lady Isabella (The Great Laxey Wheel) celebrates her 165th Anniversary this year, the maintenance team at Manx National Heritage continues to monitor and take care of this wonderful feat of engineering to ensure she continues to run smoothly after well over a century and a half of hard work. Discover more…

 

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Your support of our charity can make a real difference to projects like this and the wider preservation and enjoyment of the Isle of Man’s natural and cultural heritage.  Our incredible sites, collections and special projects motivate many to support our work. We hope you will join them.

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