Das Wasserrad – Technik und Kulturgeschichte

    Full details

    English titleThe water wheel – technology and cultural history
    Authors & editors

    Wolfel, Wilhelm [Author]

    Publisher Udo Pfriemer Verlag
    Year of publication 1987

    German (main text)

    Medium Book

    Energy & power > Water power


    Scope & contentSummary Translation

    An overview, with numerous specific examples, of water-driven wheels from antiquity onwards. The first chapters deal with the use of wheels to distribute water for irrigation, including examples in China and Syria. It then examines water mills, starting with examples from the classical world, and describing in detail developments in mediaeval Europe through to the 18th century. The following two chapters look in detail at two specific feats of engineering. The first is the “artificio de Juanelo”, built in the mid-16th century to take water from the river Tagus up to the city of Toledo. It used an undershot wheel to raise the water to a 600 m long bridge equipped with a system of levers, channels and buckets. It is not known exactly how it worked: the text describes and illustrates the best hypothesis. The second is the Marly Machine, which used a complex system of water wheels and pumps to provide water for the fountains of Versailles. This is illustrated with several contemporary diagrams.The next chapter looks at the use of water wheels as general sources of energy: this potential was not properly realised until the Middle Ages. Apart from a passing mention of a marble sawmill around the year 400, the first known reference to a sawmill dates from 1235. By the beginning of the 16th century the water wheel was being used in different crafts. The chapter explains the development of paper mills, fulling mills, pumping works, boring machines, pipe-boring mills, stamping mills, gunpowder mills and others. The following chapter covers the exploitation of water power in mining, which played a vital part in ore extraction from the late Middle Ages. The prime use was to drain the galleries. The chapter largely refers to the writings of Agricola, who published his book on the subject in the mid-16th century, but also looks at the later development of the flatrod system.The final chapter turns to hammers, wire-drawing mills and grinding mills. Smelting works using water power for some of the heaviest work are known from the early Middle Ages. The text traces the development of bellows and different types of hammer, before looking at techniques used for various types of manufacturing.Copious historical drawings and diagrams illustrate the technical developments mentioned.

    Copies held

    Accession no. 229649

    • Shelf location: F420-WOL
    • Donor: Ken Major Collection