Friday 17 September 2021

Great Laxey Wheel

Anyone rummaging through boxes of miscellaneous vintage postcards will soon find one of the incongruously oversized Laxey Wheel. It’s the world’s largest working water wheel and can be found on the Isle of Man where it is a major visitor attraction.  The Isle of Man was rich in mineral deposits but had no seams of coal so to pump water out of the Great Laxey Mines complex this water powered Leviathan was constructed in 1854.  Reserves of lead, copper, silver and zinc finally ran out in 1929 and the mines closed.  The wheel languished out of use until 1965 when it was taken under government control and a project to restore it to working order was completed in 1971 since when it has been conserved. It makes a comfortable fit with the island’s major attraction of antiquated transport - narrow-gauge steam railways, electric tramways, and a mountain railway that climbs to the summit of Snaefell.  The tramway and the mountain railway converge in the village of Laxey making it something of a tourist hotspot.  Passengers on the Snaefell railway are treated to commanding views of the Laxey Wheel as their train ascends the valley side.  The white painted stone work and the bright red wheel spokes enhance its visibility today just as they did when it was a working structure rather than a museum piece.


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