Laxey Wheel

Useful Information

Location: Laxey, east coast.
Open: 06-APR to 28-OCT daily 10-17, last entry 16:15.
Fee: Adults GBP 3.30, Children (5-15) GBP 1.70, Family (2+2) GBP 8.30.
Groups: Adults (unbooked) GBP 2.80, Adults (booked) GBP 2.60.
Classification: MineLead Mine MineCopper Mine MineSilver Mine MineZinc Mine
Light: LightIncandescent Electric Light System
Dimension: L=15 m.
Guided tours: self guided, D=2 h.
Bibliography: Anders Jespersen (1954): The Lady Isabella Waterwheel of the Great Laxey Mining Co., Isle of Man 1854-1954, Copenhagen: pub by author: Virum [1954]
Anders Jespersen (1954): The Big Wheel (Lady Isabella), Laxey Isle of Man History and Description of this Famous Landmark, Douglas: Examiner Works 1954.
G.N. Kniveton (1990): Lady Isabella and the Great Laxey Mine, Official Guide Douglas: Manx Experience [1990]
T.A.Bawden, L.S. Garrad, et al (1972): The Industrial Archaeology of the Isle of Man, Newton Abbot: David & Charles 1972, pp65-66, ISBN 0-7153-5440-X.
Address: Laxey Wheel
As far as we know this information was accurate when it was published (see years in brackets), but may have changed since then.
Please check rates and details directly with the companies in question if you need more recent info.


1840 Welsh Shaft started.
27-SEP-1854 wheel started to pump water.
1870 Welsh Shaft now 540 m deep.
1881 Man Engine installed in the Welsh Shaft, a system of moving platforms used by miners to reach the mining level and get back.
1901 mine company went corrupt because of underground water.
1903 additional pumps installed by a new formed company.
1907 strike almost crippled the company.
1920 closed after a strike, a new company founded, but not successful.
1929 Laxey mine closed, Lady Isabella acquired by Mr Edwin Kneale of Laxey.
1965 site and wheel bought by the government.
1989 transferred to the Manx National Heritage.



The Great Laxey Wheel, is nicknamed Lady Isabela after the wife of Charles Hope, the Lieutenant Governor of the Isle of Man 150 years ago, who set the wheel in motion in September 1854. It is an impressive remain of the abandoned Great Laxey Mines, once the most important mine of the island and one of the major producers of lead and zinc in the British Isles. The water wheel was used to pump water from the Glen Mooar part of the mine, 200 m from the wheel and 457 m below ground. It was designed by the Victorian engineer Robert Casement. The only part which was not produced on the island is the axle, which was forged by the Mersey Iron Works of Liverpool. The cast iron rims were made by Gelling's Foundry at Douglas, the timbers were shaped by Manx artisans and the structure was assembled on location.

This is the last remaining water wheel of this type and said to be the largest working water wheel in the world or at least in Europe. If it is or not, it is definitely impressive with a diameter of 22 m, a width of 1.82 m, and a circumference of 69 m, and revolves at two to three rpm. It is big enough to pump 1136 litres of water every minute, producing about 200 horsepowers. The power is transported into the mine by a series of logs. The rotary motion was transformed into a linear to-and-fro motion by a cranked arm. The viaduct which brings the water to the wheel and also supports the oiled bearings for the logs. The water wheel is of the pitch back shot type, the water supplied from a reservoir higher up the valley was transported under pressure through an iron tube to the wheel, then up the tower where it hit the wheel.

The wheel is completed by three different mining trails on the surface of the abandoned mines with information signs. One includes a self-guided underground tour of a 15 m long tunnel.