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This town of Sheffield is very populous and large, the streets narrow, and the houses dark and black, occasioned by the continued smoke of the forges which are always at work.

Here they make all sorts of cutlery-ware, but especially that of edge tools, knives, razors, axes etc. and nails; and here the only mill of the sort, which was in use in England for some time, was set up, for turning their grindstones.

The manufacture of hard ware is ... much increased... and they talk of 30000 men employed in the whole.

from A Tour Through the Whole Island of Great Britain by Daniel Defoe published in 1724


Sheffield has four tributary rivers which flow into the River Don. These are the Loxley, the Rivelin, the Porter and the Sheaf.

The fast flowing water in these rivers provided a ready source of energy to drive water wheels.

View of River

Map of Sheffield Water Wheels
The five rivers of Sheffield
showing the water wheels which were working
in the 19th Century


At the moment, this site contains information on just one of the five Sheffield rivers, the River Sheaf which flows through Abbeydale.
Water Powered Mills on the River Sheaf in Abbeydale
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Page last updated on 20th April 2003
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