Groudle Glen’s Victorian waterwheel could turn again as part of a £50,000 refurbishment – but there is a question over who will pay.
Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry Minister Geoffrey Boot told the House of Keys his department was in talks with Onchan Commissioners over a possible restoration – but insisted the DEFA was not obliged to maintain and repair the attraction.
The rustic waterwheel, dubbed Little Isabella, was built in 1893 with the opening of the Manx Electric Railway line to Groudle. It has been used to pump water up to the Groudle Hotel and then later to power the fairy lights in the glen.
In the Keys this week, Douglas East MHK Clare Bettison asked who was responsible for its upkeep.
Mr Boot replied that the government has leased land at Groudle Glen from Onchan Commissioners, who own the site, since 1975.
He said: ‘The waterwheel and wheelhouse are in a state of disrepair and require a significant amount of financial investment to return them to a suitable condition both structurally and in terms of decoration.
‘Officers from my department have obtained structural and decorative costs for the building and also for the refurbishment of the waterwheel. These have been in the region of £50,000. DEFA is in discussion with Onchan Commissioners regarding the matter as there is some debate regarding the respective responsibilities of the owner and the tenant.
‘We will be seeking a meeting to discuss the matter with the new chief executive of the commissioners and once there is more clarity on the proposed solution I will be able to advise further.’
Onchan MHK Rob Callister claimed that the DEFA was fully responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the glen and the waterwheel.
Mr Boot insisted that wasn’t the case and while the department had carried out cosmetic maintenance, the advice from the Attorney General’s chambers was that it was not responsible for the structural repair of the wheel itself – but DEFA was ‘ready, willing and able’ to find a solution.
Garff MHK Daphne Caine asked why the waterwheeel was allowed to fall into such disrepair, leaving its dangerous and unsightly.
Mr Boot said it is fenced off.