London’s only working water wheel in Merton ‘out of action’ after breaking down

The iconic water wheel in the South London borough of Merton, the capital’s last remaining water wheel that is still in use today, has broken down.

The water wheel, which has been turning on the River Wandle since 1885, stopped working on Monday (October 25) after a sluice gate was damaged.

“At the moment London’s only working water wheel at Merton Abbey Mills is out of action,” said a Wandle Industrial Museum spokesperson.

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“This is due to a broken sluice gate,” the museum tweeted. “Hopefully back in action soon and turning once again in the River Wandle”.

The museum describes itself as a “volunteer-led museum championing the history and heritage of the industries and people of the River Wandle”.

Located on a historic textiles industry site which dates back to 1667, the water wheel at Merton Abbey Mills typically revolves for five days a week between Wednesdays and Sundays.

It is popular with visitors, who are free to explore the Grade II-listed Wheelhouse building which it is attached to.

Despite being 136-years-old, the wheel still generates electricity and powers other machinery including a lathe and its own self-lubricating device.

It was once only one of a hundred water wheels on the River Wandle, but now only four survive.

Of the four surviving wheels, the one at Merton Abbey Mills is the only one that is still in use today.

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