Why was Shepherd Wheel successfully built here?

Shepherd Wheel is a water powered grinding workshop located on the River Porter. The site is the earliest industrial building with records going back to the sixteenth century. The grinding workshop was powered by a waterwheel could once house up to ten men grinding blades at the same time. This particular workshop produced edge tools. The key to Shepherd Wheel successfully being built here was that it was built at the right place and at the right time. The workshop relied on local factors and national factors to be run successfully.

There are a few local factors in the site itself, such as the River Porter. This river provided a fast, reliable water source from the Peak District. This meant that it was a good source of power all year round. A piece of evidence to prove that this river was a particular constant and reliable one was that it was popular for water wheel powered services because they are workshops built up and down the river.

Another local factor to do with the site itself was the L – shaped valley. This made the land easier to build on and was a cheaper way of building because it didn’t require excess digging. The steep sides made the river flow faster and the millpond and dam fitted perfectly into the valley floor with no excess digging. A final factor about the site itself is that there is a residential area nearby; Ranmoor. This provided the workshop with workers who became skilled as it was a local job. The quiet, green scenery also encouraged the workers to come to work and increase production. The residential are also provided customers boosting the demand for products and creating a reputation for Shepherd Wheel.

Another set of local factors are the resources nearby. For example, wood. There was plentiful supply on the wooded valley slopes for fuel and building.

Clay was located by fast flowing rivers, such as the River Loxley and the River Rivelin. It was also located beside the River Porter and was used for lining the millpond to prevent water leaking and a waste of power. Clay also was used to build “crucible” pots in the Industrial Revolution. Gritstone from the quarries in the Peak District was used for the grinding wheels and maybe used for excess building, such as steps. Another resource was coal nearby. This was located in Eckington, east of Shepherd Wheel. This was used as a key element to make steel.

For the other ingredient of steel there was a forge nearby; Forge Dam, which produced Iron for steel. Iron was also located at Eckington. These resources’ being so close decreased transport costs and was a constant source of steel for the blades. A final resource was the good transport links. These helped the products to be sent around Sheffield and England to build up a reputation and also to meet growing demands.

Shepherd did not only rely on local factors to be built and run successfully in Bingham Park, but also national factors as well.

Shepherd Wheel was built in the right place as shown by the local factors and a description of the site, but also at the right time. It was built before the Industrial Revolution but benefited from this time of innovation and inventions immensely. The Industrial Revolution was a time of innovation and inventions.

First, the population increased. This provided an increase in workers. It also provided a higher demand for cutlery as there were more people. This lead to production increases and also demands increased.

Second, the population started to demand a higher amount of steel products for jobs and personal use. This meant an increase in production, which gained Shepherd Wheel and Sheffield a bigger reputation.

Inventions also aided to success of Shepherd Wheel. There were 3 key pioneers of the steel industry were Abraham Darby, Benjamin Huntsman and Henry Bessemer.

Abraham Darby found a way to make steel stronger and of a better quality. This lead to production increase and demand increase. This was because the steel was popular, stronger and purer. The steel was produced for personal use, weapons and the basis of other industries.

In 1826, Henry Bessemer invented the “converter” which made up to 20 times more steel. Also he invented the “Puddling furnace”, which also increased the steels quality.

Benjamin Huntsman also helped by inventing “Crucible Steel Pots” which produced a lot more steel. By this invention Sheffield could now make its own steel and this cut down on transport costs and exportation costs. It also meant that Sheffield could now reach higher demands for steel.

Now that Sheffield could specialize in steel, it became well known over the country. Transport was improved to meet demand better and start to export steel globally. This gained Sheffield an enormous reputation and was officially named “The Steel City”.

To conclude, I have proven and explained that Shepherd Wheel relied on local factors and national factors to be built successfully. I believe thanks to the contribution of all these factors Shepherd Wheel was successful. The most important factors were the River Porter and the Industrial Revolution. These two factors fulfilled the theory Shepherd Wheel being built in the right place and at the right time. Thanks to the inventions from the Industrial Revolution pioneers and the layout of the L-shaped valley and surroundings, Shepherd Wheel and in the future Sheffield became a well known and successful place where good quality steel was produced to meet high demands.

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