The Great Laxey Wheel or ‘Lady Isabella’ (as she is known by locals) is the largest working waterwheel in the world. This wonderful example of Victorian engineering was built in 1854 to pump water from the Laxey mines on the east coast of the Isle of Man.
Designed by the Victorian engineer Robert Casement, it was powerful enough to remove 250 gallons of water a minute from mine shafts 200 yards away and 1,500ft below ground.
Standing at over 72ft high, the wheel has been one of the island’s most popular tourist attractions for more than 150 years. Today’s visitors can still climb up to the viewing platform on top of the wheel for a stunning panorama across the Glen Mooar Valley as well as an impressive view of the wheel itself.
The site also includes a walk through the valley to discover the mines themselves and learn about the lives of the miners. The old compressor house and the workings of the wheel pumping system can all be seen too. Further down the valley there’s also a chance to take a trip on the mines railway, which was once used to carry lead and zinc ores from deep underground.
The Wheel has become a major part of Manx culture. It was named ‘Lady Isabella’ after the wife of Lieutenant Governor Charles Hope who was the island’s governor at that time and the Wheel features today on the reverse side of the £20 notes issued by the Isle of Man Government.