A water wheel in Sudbury is turning again and is proving a popular point on the town’s new guided walks.
The Free Press recently featured the town’s new guided walks [January 21], which take place on the third Saturday of every month, visiting many of its most famous sights including the water meadows, with the Mill Hotel sitting on the edge of these ancient common lands.
Repair work carried out over the summer means the wheel is again turning for the first time since 2010, with the high winter water levels meaning now is the best time to see it in action.
The hotel’s general manager, Gary Install, said: “Local people are very pleased to see the wheel turning again after many years and hotel guests are fascinated by the history of the building and a Suffolk-made waterwheel.”
Mr Install said he was more than happy for visitors to come into the hotel to see the wheel in action, which can also be seen from the meadows themselves.
The waterwheel was manufactured by Whitmore and Binyon of Wickham Market in 1889.
Made of cast iron and weighing about 15 tons, it was once used to drive four sets of millstones, a pair of which can be seen at the entrance of the hotel.
Water would enter the wheel through a gap under the penstock. The hatch above the aperture can be adjusted to alter the flow of water, controlling the speed of the wheel and the power generated.
The water falls onto the ‘float’ of the wheel. The momentum of the water on the float turns the wheel presenting the next float to the incoming water.
In 1979 restoration work was carried out that included new bearings and a greasing system. These bearings lasted until 2010 when the operation of the wheel started to be troublesome again.
Over the summer of 2015 the second restoration took place which involved damming the river and raising the wheel to install a new set of specially manufactured bearings.
In early November, the wheel began to turn again and The Mill Hotel once again has a working centre-piece which can be seen from both the restaurant and the bar.
The guided walks meet at 11am inside Sudbury library. Tickets are £5 for adults and £4 for children.