Our project will focus on the restoration of the Queen’s Mill Victorian waterwheel. Standing on the River Aire in the centre of Castleford, Queen’s Mill can be seen in historical records dating back to 1698, although the waterwheel’s present design dates from 1884.
The wheel was taken out of commission in the 1970s, but has been preserved in situ ever since. It is a breast shot type and an exceptionally large example of Victorian engineering, at approx. 25 tonnes, with high efficiency features such as curved timber buckets, tight aproning and internal spoke retainers. All the ironwork is believed to be the original castings. An historic waterwheel engineer has appraised the wheel and provided us with a plan of works. He described the wheel as being in ‘a severely derelict state’ but once restored, ‘good for another 100 years’.
Castleford Heritage Trust want to restore the waterwheel to current heritage conservation standards and to protect and preserve this amazing piece of engineering. Although Castleford has a rich and exciting history, most of the physical heritage has been knocked down, covered over, or removed. Our Victorian waterwheel is one of only a few remaining heritage assets within the town. At the moment its restoration is viable and achievable, but the longer the wheel is left this will become more difficult, costlier, and there is real risk of this heritage asset being lost.
Whilst estimates for the total project costs are closer to £100,000, Castleford Heritage Trust have been fundraising for this project and have some funds already secured. It is our mission to continue fundraising to raise the rest, with sponsorships from individuals and local and national businesses also being sought to support this great project.
It is important to note that in addition to saving this important heritage asset, restoring the wheel will bring many benefits for all of our community and beyond:
1. The Queen’s Mill Waterwheel has the power to generate electricity which will power the site and can also be used by the national grid. A working wheel will contribute to the sustainability of Queen’s Mill and allow for us to further develop our site, fund the delivery of more community activities and expand on what our organisation can offer the community.
2. The wheel will be used as a teaching and learning resource for schools, colleges and universities and become a focal point within the area for teaching heritage, science and technology activities.
3. The restoration process itself will provide opportunities to research and learn more about the wheel, which will be recorded by commissioned archaeologists to create a permanent resource and basis for teaching about the wheel’s heritage and place within the development of the milling industry.
4. The Waterwheel will become the aesthetic centrepiece of the Queen’s Mill building and we see the potential for this to be a tourist attraction, attracting new visitors to our town and boosting the local economy. We will regularly offer opportunities for both the local community and visitors to access the waterwheel when this is up and running.
5. This project will contribute significantly to our overall goals of regenerating the riverside in Castleford and in developing Queen’s Mill as a community space and centre for arts, culture and heritage.
We know that there is a huge desire to get the wheel turning again and to achieve this would be a huge morale boost to the community.
We hope that you can support us in our goal.