Little Matlock rolling mill immediately south and east of Olive Terrace
Heritage Category: Scheduled Monument
List Entry Number: 1019857
Date first listed: 10-Jun-2001
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The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.
District: Sheffield (Metropolitan Authority)
National Grid Reference: SK 30819 89411
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
Reasons for Designation
Iron has been produced in England from at least 500 BC. The iron industry, spurred on by a succession of technological developments, has played a major part in the history of the country, its production and overall importance peaking with the Industrial Revolution. Iron ores occur in a variety of forms across England, giving rise to several different extraction techniques, including open casting, seam-based mining similar to coal mining, and underground quarrying, and resulting in a range of different structures and features at extraction sites. Ore was originally smelted into iron in small, relatively low-temperature furnaces known as bloomeries. These were replaced from the 16th century by blast furnaces which were larger and operated at a higher temperature to produce molten metal for cast iron. Cast iron is brittle, and to convert it into maleable wrought iron or steel it needs to be remelted. This was originally conducted in an open hearth in a finery forge, but technological developments, especially with steel production, gave rise to more sophisticated types of furnace. Once produced, steel was used for a variety of purposes. Rolling mills appeared in the 18th century for the production of metal bars and were essential for Henry Cort's puddling and rolling process. The use of rolling mills for the manufacture of tin plate also became reliable early in the 18th century. Little Matlock rolling mill is a well-preserved complex which demonstrates the growth and development of the iron and steel industry in this part of the country. Although much of the 18th century mill was destroyed in the flood of 1864 remains of this period will survive beneath the present mill. The survival of the later 19th century industrial complex, including the buildings, machinery and the water management system is rare. The water wheel is the largest example of its type to survive in Sheffield; the rolling mill itself being the best preserved 19th century example, with original machinery, in the area. The physical remains combine with the historical documentation to provide a very detailed picture of the form and development of the industrial hamlet. The survival of the associated buildings provide evidence for the administrative side of the industry and the domestic arrangement of those who worked within it.
Legacy Record - This information may be included in the List Entry Details.
The monument includes earthwork, buried and some standing remains of Little
Matlock rolling mill, and its associated water management system. Remains of
an earlier mill lying beneath the present mill and the site of a tilt hammer
works to the north are also included. The mill, which is a Listed Building
Grade II*, is situated on the north side of the River Loxley, to the north
west of Sheffield city centre. The water management system extends to the east
and west of the mill buildings and feeds from and into the adjacent river.
The site at Little Matlock was leased in 1732 from the Norfolk estate to James
Balguy who built a cutlers wheel. A valuation in 1811 describes the site as
having three works, two tilt, two forge and tilt hammers, and a plating hammer
in the old grinding shop. Following a flood in 1864, the mill was seriously
damaged which led to an insurance claim of 5,000 pounds. The site was rebuilt
in 1882 as a water powered rolling mill and a steam mill was added in the
early 20th century so that both water and steam power could be used. Both
water and steam continued to be used until the 1950s. Since the early 19th
century the mill has also been known as Boggey Wheel and Lower Cliffe Wheel.
Prior to the flood, Little Matlock was one of a series of mills which were
located next to the River Loxley so that it could be exploited as a power
source. The exact nature of the water management system which provided power
to these mills is unclear but involved leats and ponds not dissimilar to those
surviving today. The density of mills on this stretch of the river during the
18th and 19th century is demonstrated by the fact that Cliffe Wheel was
situated only about 150m west of Little Matlock Mill and another, Ashton Carr
Wheel, 200m to the east.
The monument survives as a series of buried, standing and earthwork remains
which follow the line of the river for approximately 500m on an east to west
alignment. A weir at the western end of the monument serves to divert water
from the river to the head goit, a channel which supplies water to the mill
wheel. The head goit sits above the level of the river and drops less steeply
so that by the time it reaches the mill buildings, approximately 300m to the
east, the goit is several metres higher than the river. At its western end the
head goit is approximately 8m wide with a grass covered, stone revetted bank
lying approximately 2m from its southern edge. The distance between the waters
edge and the stone revetted bank increases to approximately 5m closer to the
mill buildings. A footpath leading to the mill runs between the waters edge
and the revetted bank.
Approximately 150m east of the weir the head goit widens to form a long,
narrow mill pond (sometimes referred to as a dam) which replaced the earlier
Cliffe and Low Matlock dams after the 1864 flood. Approximately 160m further
east a weir, just over 7m wide, acts as an overflow to the dam and runs to the
south across the line of the pre-flood mill pond, to meet the river. The
overflow weir has grooved side stones and a stone tunnel built into the upper
steps to drain the dam. The forebay (a sheltered bay immediately behind the
water wheel) links the mill pond with the north west corner of the mill
building. This is faced with iron and terminates at a cast-iron pentrough
(water tank) which supplied water directly to the mill wheel. The overshot
(fed from the top), iron, water wheel has a diameter of just over 5.5m, a
width of just over 3.6m and although still in place is now off its bearings.
A photograph taken after the 1864 flood shows two pentroughs, the second
wheel probably working in the same wheel pit.
The tail goit directs water away from the wheel and is deep with steep stone
faced sides. It continues to the west for approximately 110m, under a
footbridge until it meets again with the river. A small weir at the eastern
end of the monument creates a fall in the river bed into which water flows
from the tail goit.
The present mill building is situated approximately 100m west of the eastern
weir and occupies the site of earlier mill buildings as shown on both pre- and
post-flood maps. The arrangement of the buildings have changed over time but
the different phases have been clearly documented on maps dating from the late
18th century to the present day. The present building is single storey and
built of sandstone with the brick built, steam powered mill added onto the
south side. The chimney stack of the steam mill has a painted date of 1939.
Inside the mill building much of the machinery, particularly the gear-train to
the steel rolling-stands survives, adapted for use with electric power. The
flywheel, which was driven by the external water wheel, is set against the
northern wall, and the trains are arranged in a row across the building,
running north to south. The water mill also houses a 20th century gas furnace
which is positioned against the western gable wall. The floor throughout is
covered in heat-resisting, fireproof, metal plates, which allowed hot metal to
be moved around easily. The steam powered mill was similar in layout with the
row of trains arranged across the building. The exact position of machinery
which has now been removed, is also indicated by various fixtures and fittings
within the building.
To the north west of the mill building, and north of the tail goit, is an area
of hard standing. It is clear from both pre- and post-flood maps that this was
once the site of a building believed to have been a tilt hammer works. The
sub-rectangular building abutted the northern edge of the tail goit and was
supplied with water by a small pond situated immediately to its north west.
The position of the pond and its associated sluices are recorded on late 20th
century 1:10,000 Ordnance Survey maps suggesting that it survived at least
until the 1970s. Although neither the building or the pond are now evident
from the surface it is thought that remains of these will survive beneath the
ground surface. To the east of the tilt hammer site there are some areas of a
contemporary refuse tip shown on maps. These are included as they will
preserve important information about the site and the products that were made
A number of other buildings are also associated with the mill complex and
together combine to form Little Matlock Hamlet, a community which built up
around its industrial core. The surviving buildings include a short terrace of
cottages, known as Riverdale Cottages, which are believed to be the oldest
buildings in the hamlet dating from the late 18th century. The cottages, which
are Listed Buildings Grade II, were used as workers cottages and are survivors
of the pre-flood mill complex. A stone built building, immediately north of
the mill and tail goit, is thought to have been used as a stable or barn. The
counting house, which lies approximately 40m north east of the mill building,
may be a post-flood addition but a building is shown in this position on a map
of 1864. The available mapped evidence indicates that a number of smaller
buildings also formed part of the hamlet but their function is unknown and
traces of their exact position are not apparent on the ground surface. The
cottages, stable, and counting house all lie outside the area of protection to
the north and are not therefore included in the scheduling.
The mill building and the machinery contained within it, all modern fences,
gates, walls, road and path surfaces are excluded from the scheduling although
the ground beneath all these features is included. The north wall of the
mill, which forms part of the southern wall of the tail goit, is included
below the internal floor level of the mill.
MAP EXTRACT The site of the monument is shown on the attached map extract.
The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.
Legacy System number: 29989
Legacy System: RSM
Books and journals
Corbett, G, Low Matlock Wheel Loxley Valley Sheffield South Yorkshire, (1999), 1-7
Crossley, D, Water Power on the Sheffield Rivers, (1989), VII-37
Wray, N, One Great Workshop: The Buildings of the Sheffield Metal Trades, (2000), 18-20
This monument is scheduled under the Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Areas Act 1979 as amended as it appears to the Secretary of State to be of national importance. This entry is a copy, the original is held by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
End of official listing