A HISTORIC water wheel that once powered a Bolton mill has been given a new lease of life.

Turton Local History Society has helped preserve a part of the town’s industrial heritage by restoring the water wheel, which has been in existence since the 1800s.

The wheel, in Bury Road, Edgworth, now also has a plaque explaining its history.

David Leeming, from the society, said: “As a local history society we are pleased to be exhibiting a relic of the past.

“It is of interest to a lot of people, especially students, to see how power was generated before electricity.”

Water wheels were used by factories and mills to power the machinery before the existence of electric generators.

The Turton wheel powered the Blackrock Mill in Turton Bottoms during the 1800s.

Towards the end of the century the mill was transformed into a bleaching and dying factory, which left the water wheel redundant and it fell out of use.

In the early 20th century, the mill was demolished, but the wheel, still unused, was left intact.

It was brought to the attention of the history society, whose members decided to move the wheel to Turton Tower, but the society soon noticed that it became neglected and thought that it was not in a very visible area.

So in 2011, along with Turton council, the group decided to transport the wheel and have it restored and installed in Bury Road.

Now, 12 months later, all the restoration work is completed and the plaque has been added.

Cllr Jean Rigby, who helped organise the move, said: “People in the village have said it was a shame it had been hidden away for so long and I don’t know anyone who does not like it there. It’s a gateway to the village now.”

The move was paid for by a £50,000 grant from British Trust for Conservation Volunteers, which was also used to improve the toilets and footpaths at Turton Tower.

Moving the wheel cost between £12,000 to £14,000.

Cllr Rigby added: “It was such an enormous job, and several locations and ways to move it were considered.

“The people who moved it had to do it at 6 o’clock in the morning because it’s so big.”