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Laxey Wheel Stops Turning 18 September 2003

Manx National Heritage, presenters of the 10,000 year old “Story of Mann”, have recently commenced major work on the Laxey Wheel to make sure that the "Lady Isabella” is in perfect condition for her 150th birthday next September. Over the next few months the Wheel and surrounding area will be repaired, painted and checked over thoroughly, and as a result the Wheel will not be turning whilst this essential work is carried out.

Public services Manager with Manx National Heritage, Howard Parkin said

All of us on the Island recognise that The Lady Isabella is quite unique, she is a real symbol of Manxness. It is a great tribute to the work of our forefathers that the Wheel does indeed “stand so majestic in the shadow of Snaefell” , and we are all looking forward to the Lady’s birthday next year. In the meantime,’ Mr Parkin concluded, ‘We would be delighted to welcome as many people as possible at the Wheel to see just what is going on and help us to make sure that she is in perfect condition for her 150th anniversary.

It was on the 24th September 1854 that Mrs Dumbell, wife of the chairman of the directors, named the Great Laxey Wheel “Lady Isabella” in honour of Governor Hope’s wife. The wheel was set in motion, and apart from a short period in the 1960’s it has been turning ever since. There are plans to hold a series of events at the Wheel next year to mark this special birthday.

Apart from clearly marked areas the Wheel, the adit and the footpaths will be kept open throughout this maintenance period. Visitors to the Wheel and outlying area will, however, have a unique opportunity to see the Wheel and the surrounding buildings in a state of restoration rarely seen isince the Wheel was built in 1854. One of the main tasks to be performed will be the replacement of the viewing platform, so to do this and to paint the “Lady” it will be necessary to scaffold much of the structure.

Head of Properties at Manx National Heritage, Mr Tony Pass said:

This is one of our major projects, and each year we progress further towards the full conservation of the Wheel and its surroundings. One of the recurring problems that face our contractors is the winter weather. Each year the climate seems to achieve new record levels of nastiness. Last winter proved to be no exception with high rainfall and incessant gales, of which Laxey has had its full share. The Great Wheel was built above the village where it was meant to be seen. Its prominent location means that it is exposed to the four winds. So this year work is progressing that little bit earlier to ensure all is ready for the “Lady’s” special year. Manx National Heritage apologise for any inconvenience this may cause to visitors, but feel sure that members of the public will appreciate that such work is necessary as part of the ongoing preservation and conservation of this great Manx icon. As a consequence of this extensive work programme it has been decided that admission to the Wheel will for the remainder of the 2003 season be free of charge to all of our visitors. We do ask, however, that visitors to the Laxey Wheel consider making a donation towards the cost of this restoration work in the donation boxes provided on site.

All of the other MNH Story of Mann sites will remain open usual until 27th October, with the House of Manannan, The Manx Museum and the Sound remaining open throughout the winter.

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