Shepherd Wheel Workshop is a unique working example of Sheffield's knife grinding industry dating back to the 1500s.
There is little written about the early history of Shepherd Wheel Workshop. In 1584, William Beighton, a cutler of Stumperlowe, left to his sons in his will: "all my interest terms titles and possession which I have in and upon one watter whele called Potar Whele which I have of the grant of the said Lord".
This is the earliest reference to a wheel on the site which Shepherd Wheel Workshop stands – it matches a description of a wheel that a Mr Shepherd held the tenancy of in 1794. With no similar wheels known to have existed in the area, it’s likely that the references are to the same wheel. From the 1820s, the wheel was occupied by a family called Hinde. They worked there for over a hundred years, until the end of Shepherd Wheel's working life in about 1930.
In William Beighton's time, the land was originally owned by the Earl of Shrewsbury, who was Lord of the Manor of Sheffield. When he died, his estates passed to Thomas Howard, who became Duke of Norfolk. The land remained with the Dukes of Norfolk until 1900, when Sheffield City Council bought Whiteley Woods to make a public park, which included Shepherd Wheel.
Over many years, local historical societies campaigned for its restoration and the site was opened as a museum in 1962. After closure in 1997 the site was placed under the management of Sheffield Industrial Museums Trust in 1998.
Today, the site forms part of Sheffield Museums and is operated in partnership with the Friends of Porter Valley.
© Ian M Spooner
© Ian M Spooner