The Laxey Wheel – Laxey, Isle of Man - Atlas Obscura
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Laxey, Isle of Man

The Laxey Wheel

World's largest working waterwheel has been around for over 150 years. 

Located on the Isle of Man, the Laxey Wheel is the world’s largest working waterwheel and also one of its oldest that is still operational. Designed by a local engineer, Robert Casemont, in 1854, the wheel has a diameter of 72 feet and a circumference of 227 feet.

Spinning at a leisurely 3 rpm, the wheel was installed to pump water to nearby mines. Due to its size and prominence in the landscape of Glen Mooar Valley, the Laxey Wheel began drawing curious visitors almost immediately and does so to this day.

The mines that the wheel supplied water to closed in 1929, but the government purchased the site in 1965 and restored the wheel to working condition. Lady Isabella, as the wheel is affectionately known, was named after the wife of Lieutenant Governor Hope and is housed in a distinctive red and white structure emblazoned with the emblem of the Isle of Man known as the Triskelion (an image of three legs forming a wheel). Curiously, the national emblem that was placed on the side of the building was installed incorrectly and is actually a mirror image of the island’s true coat of arms.