Skip to content

Visiting the waterwheel at Aberdulais

Waterwheel and bastion, Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall, South Wales
Waterwheel and bastion at Aberdulais Tin Works | © National Trust / Suzanne Patton

Aberdulais is home to the largest electricity generating overshot waterwheel in Europe, and has stood the test of time for more than 400 years. Though currently stationary as it awaits specialist assessment for repair and restoration, when in operation, you can gaze at the power of nature in all its glory and experience an updated version of old-fashioned green energy.

Europe's largest electricity generating waterwheel

Built by students and apprentices of British Steel at Port Talbot, this is the largest electricity-generating wheel in Europe, with a diameter of almost 27 feet (8.2m). It has 72 buckets and rotates five times per minute.

The waterwheel sits in the original wheel pit and a flywheel would have transmitted rotary power to the rollers of the Victorian tinplate work, where two wheels operated side by side.

A group of five adult visitors are standing smiling and looking up at a large, algae-covered waterwheel at Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall, Wales
Visitors at Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall | © National Trust Images/Chris Lacey

The technical bit

A three-stage gearbox steps up the speed to enable the shaft-mounted generator to produce up to 20kw of electricity. On an average day, approximately 100-120kw of electricity is generated.

It was installed in 1991, when hydro-electric schemes of this type were relatively rare. The tradition of innovation at Aberdulais continues to this day.

Visitors at the waterwheel and site of the former  tin-works at  Aberdulais , South Wales
Visitors at the waterwheel and site of the former  tin-works at  Aberdulais | © National Trust Images / John Millar

An energy-generating turbine

The waterwheel is not the whole energy generating story. We also have our own turbine, with a generating capacity of 200kw. This supplies power to the National Grid - enough to provide electricity to most of the neighbourhood.

Waterwheel and bastion, Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall, South Wales

Discover more at Aberdulais

Find out when Aberdulais is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

You might also be interested in

View of the Waterfall at Aberdulais Tin Works, South Wales 

Visiting the waterfall at Aberdulais 

The waterfall at Aberdulais truly is a force of nature. Whether it's a torrent or a trickle, it always looks beautiful. Discover more about its historic past and what to see during your visit.

An elevated view of Aberdulais Tin Works and Waterfall, Wales, with a large waterwheel in the foreground, and a group of visitors walking towards it.

History of Aberdulais 

Discover how Aberdulais Tinworks and Waterfall has been at the heart of Welsh industry when a German engineer chose it as a secret location for smelting copper.