Grand Re-Opening Wellington Wheel Pit

Grand Re-Opening Wellington Wheel Pit, March 2012

In 1794 the Mellor Mill, Bottoms Mill was opened, six stories, 400feet long, and 33 feet wide the mill was powered by the Wellington Wheel. A breast water wheel 22 feet diameter, 18 feet wide. Power was transferred, from the edge of the wheel to the rest of the mill by vertical shafts. By 1804, 10,080 spindles were operating and up to 550 workers (mainly women and children) were employed.  However less than fifteen years later the need arose for a second wheel, and the Waterloo Wheel, was constructed. And in 1860 investement was made in the new form of power, steam, the steam and boiler house.

The following video covers the re-opening of the Wellington Wheel Pit to the public in March 2012, the wheel itself long gone. (Chris Mann, of Manmade productions, produced the video)

The Mellor Mill site was moribund for the next near century and a quarter, following the disastrous fire of 1892. The brickwork broke down into clay, leaf mould into soil, and trees grew, and grew as this time passed until the Mellor Archaeological Trust came along, with the novel idea of emptying the Wellington Wheel Pit. This endeavour was helped by a £15,000 grant from The Association of Industrial Archaeology, together with £5,000 from the Trust. Plans were to open up the Pit, put up interpretation boards, and open the whole area to the public; this was achieved and celebrated in a grand opening in March 2012. Excavation of the pit had started in June 2011, initially with a 22 ton digger, then in tandem with Bob’s own 1 ½ ton digger in the pit itself, lowered by its bigger brother. Work has continued, almost every week-end and some week days. Volunteers have uncovered the cobbled area in front of the mill, the 20 metre tunnel that took the drive shaft away from the Wellington Wheel, as well as stable for visitor’s horses, under the front projection.