According to several archaeologists, engineers and architects the aqueduct and the brick walls where the water wheel stands reveals that there probably was a smaller wheel before. However, there is only documentation of its installation from the 15th century on July 10th, 1451.
The current iron wheel was installed in 1956 by the Metallurgic Naval and Terrestrial Society from Alicante. The local wood artisans Francisco Ortiz and his son also took part in the design and assembly operations of this particular type of hydraulic engineering. The cost of this new device rose to around 1800 €, this was paid by more than two hundred owners that were members of the group “inheritance of the irrigation wheel”.
The device is moved by the water from one of the two mother or main irrigation canals, the “Alquibla mayor” or “Barreras” which are located on the right side of the Segura River. This canal starts in a dam that controls the traditional irrigation system in Murcia. Thus, the wheel in this Museum is a typical wheel moved by water currents and as of such possesses the same likeness. Its diameter is 11 meters and it has 1, 90 meters by width.
The two crowns or circular sides of this device have empty wheels integrated, this is where 72 buckets are located (36 per crown); its mouth opens to the outer side so the water is distributed by means of gravity. This happens due to the rotatory movement in two superior canals of the aqueduct at the maximum height of its gauge, 8 meters above the water. The crowns are fixed by the use of 24 spokes (12 x 12) which are fixed with struts every three buckets respectively. The distribution of the joists in each side create a double concentric ring with a polygonal perimeter. Between crown and crown, at the same level as every bucket and at a distance of 1 meter approximately, 36 rectangular paddles with parabolic profile are laid out concurrently. The water collides with the paddles and propels the elevating mechanism.
The energy is produced through the impact of falling water from the wide canal. It is shaped more or less like a funnel as to help concentrate the force of the water flowing through it, and it is best put to use where the current rises at the narrowing of the channel, where vertically the parabolic paddlewheels are imposed. It is held on a solid horizontal axis of iron, rounded mild-grade steel and has 0, 40 metres in diameter in which the spokes converge between its two internal plates; they are cast in the same likeness. The ends of this shaft are embedded in steel ball bearings, which in turn fit into its sides, it is formed by strong brick walls with two arches on the aforementioned shaft and has dimensions which are 1,85 m by 2,10 m long respectively. The ridges flow through channels where the water is poured into buckets. This essential part of irrigations is found at the Museo Etnológico de la Huerta de Murcia. It was declared National Historical-Artistic Monument by the Royal Decree 1.757/1.982 of June, 18.
How to Arrive?
- Costa Cálida Región de Murcia