[ILN 14 Oct 1854]
The Starting of a stupendous Water-wheel, recently added to the works of the Laxey Glen Mines, In the Isle of Man, was attended with an interesting ceremony, on the 27th ult. The mines, we understand, are held under lease from the Crown, at 1-12th Royalty. They produce about 90 tons of silver-lead ore per mouth, yielding 50 ounces of silver to the ton; and also about 260 tons of zinc ores monthly. The works include eight large water-wheels, and one steam-engine; and the company are about to erect three additional water-wheels: one 16 feet in diameter, and two 50 feet. The starting of the gigantic Wheel recently added was commemorated by an Industrial fête by between 3000 and 4000 persons, from all parts of the Island, to witness so great an achievement as (according to the Manx Sun) the completion of the "largest wheel in Europe." We have only space to describe the naming ceremony.
The workpeople-between 500 and 600 in number-dressed in holiday clothes. accompanied by two bands of music, walked from the washing-floors to the large Wheel, headed by the Chairman of the Directors, George W. Dumbell, Esq. ; and the Agent of the Mines. Captain Rowe ; who, on their arrival at the Wheel, conducted the Governor and his lady. the Lord Bishop and his lady, and Mrs. Dumbell to the first platform, where his Excellency, by means of a small handle, let on the water to the Wheel, which immediately commenced moving. Simultaneously with the first motion of the Wheel Mr. Dumbell. gracefully threw the bottle, ornamented with lace and filled with champague, and named the Wheel "Lady Isabella," in honour of the Governor's lady. At the same moment a flag at the top of the wheel wag unfurled, and made known the title to the assembled crowds, who greeted it with loud cheers, while the shouts from the strong lungs of the workpeople vied with the booming of the cannon in proclaiming the satisfactory accomplishment of a great undertaking.
The workpeople were then regaled upon a neighbouring green with substantial fare; after which they enjoyed themselves in various games.
The guests of the Mining Company were entertained in a building which had been erected upon the green for the occasion. A variety of toasts were drank, not forgetting "The Miners," proposed by his Excellency the Governor of the Island.
The day's rejoicing concluded with a display of fireworks from the viaduct near the new washings.
The new Wheel forms a conspicuous object in the picturesque glen of Laxey. Its vast dimensions are first noticed by the visitor, when descending the new road from Douglas. A host of little white cottages now stud the slopes on each side of the glen, many encircled by a clump of trees; at the bottom of the glen is a neat little church recently erected, and the new washings, where some hundred men and boys are busily employed attending to the machinery which crushes and washes the ore, further up, the mine is entered by a level, where all the ore passes out; towering above is the large Wheel sitting on its handsome case, on the end of which the Manx Arms figure in gigantic proportions; several other wheels and engine-houses are seen still higher up the glen, and forming a background to all atands Snafield, the monarch of the Manx mountains. On coming to a closer inspection of the Wheel, next to surprise at its great dimensions and majestic motion, an apparent want strikes the eye of the unscientific visitor, viz., the absence of any aqueduct to the top, or even in a line with the centre of the Wheel; a long row of white arches are certainly seen approaching it, but they are found merely to bear the long connecting rod which moves back and. and forwards applying the power of the Wheel to work the pump at the mine shaft. which is distant some two hundred yards from the Wheel. If, however, the visitor will go to the top of a neighbouring elevation, a large reservoir will be found, filled by a small stream of water; from the reservoir an iron tube about two feet in diameter passes under the surface to the foot of the Wheel, whence it rises perpendicularly In the centre of a slender white tower to the level of the reservoir, then passes under the platform over the Wheel, and pouring on c to it. returns In the opposite direction; for the Wheel is what Is termed a "breast-shot," and the water does not pass right over the top as an over-shot." The axle of the Wheel rests on the top of a substantial oblong erection in which the lower half revolves; tble casing to not merely an enormous stone building, but shows great taste of design. the lower part being pierced by arched openings, which give it a light appearance, and allow the Wheel to be seen.
The Wheel is 72 feet 6 inches in diameter, and 6 feet broad clear in the water way. The burtben is moved from the centre, giving 10 feet stroke at the crank, and 8 feet in the engine shaft. The axle of the Wheel, from the Mersey Iron Works, is made of malleable or hammered Iron 17 feet long and 21 inches diameter, and weighing 10 tone. The arms are of wood with cast-iron rim, supplied by Gelling's Foundry, Douglas;. The line of rods extending from the wheel to the top of the pit is 600 feet in length. They are made of solid oak, strapped with plates of wrought Iron. The mine is 200 fathoms deep, which depth is being constantly increased. It was this that rendered so large a wheel necessary to keep the mines clear of water. The Wheel, if required; would pump 250 gallons of water per minute from a depth of 200 fathoms.
We should add that, beside the new church lately built for the miners, there are schools for their children, superintended by a competent master from Battersea; all which has been mainly accomplished through Mr. Dumbell, Chairman of the Directors, and supported by the Mining Company.