GEOFF CRAMBIE: Demolition of Colne’s Waterside waterwheel

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This week’s column has a truly remarkable scene captured during the demolition of old Waterside in Colne during the 1930s.

Yes, seen here, circa 1935, is the legendary giant waterwheel which once ran round the clock powered by the roaring Colne Water from which the ancient town’s name derives from.

Originally there was a waterwheel to run Waterside’s King’s Corn Mill (first mentioned in 1637) which then was re-built to power the newly opened (in 1835) St Helen’s Cotton Mill which was to run for exactly 100 years until being knocked down in 1935.

The mighty and powerful waterwheel (note in our picture how it dwarves the demolition workers!), had solid English oak spokes, was 21ft 6in in diameter and was a total of 14ft 3in wide.

Colne’s Waterside was, 75 years ago, bulldozed to the ground and gone forever were Bank Terrace North and Bank Terrace South (known to all Watersiders as “The Landings”), Buck Terrace, Gas Street, St Helen’s Street and Whitaker’s Square. As for the enormous waterwheel, it was buried deep down in the St Helen’s Mill cellars and where it remains to this very day!

Just recently, a good friend of mine who is most knowledgeable in electronics went down to the St Helen’s Mill site with a high-priced, sophisticated sensing device.

After three hours, his radio signal found a huge metal object several feet down. The mighty Waterside waterwheel is still there 75 years on!