On the drive home from my weekend getaway at Animal Farm, my partner and I made a sightseeing detour– something which has become our norm. We had both passed signs to the Persian Water Wheel before on different occasions but never stopped. The Persian Water Wheel was built in 1798 to provide water from the Martha Brae river to the town of Falmouth in Trelawny on Jamaica’s north coast. In 2008, it was restored using many of the original parts. It still turns to this day once the river’s water level is high enough, such as after recent rainfall. The water wheel now lies on private property which is used to host events such as weddings, but thankfully we came at the end of a function and were able to view the wheel without interrupting. Here’s how this excursion went.
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Where is the Persian Water Wheel?
The Persian Water Wheel is an attraction located near Falmouth in Trelawny, Jamaica. It is found on private property which is used to host functions, so it’s advisable to call ahead. We didn’t and got lucky, but that may not always be the case. You’ll pass a single sign shortly after turning off the A1 highway, but after that it can get tricky because the Google Maps marker is incorrect at the time of writing. I’m trying to get Google to update the marker from a pin I saved while there, so we’ll see. I wish I could provide correct driving directions, but we just did the old-fashioned thing of asking friendly passersby for help and I’m afraid I don’t remember all the details. It wasn’t difficult to find though. We were only off track for about 2 minutes. Visiting the Persian Water Wheel is one of the best free things to do in Falmouth, Jamaica. Free ample parking is available. The restaurant and bar there appear to operate during events only.
History of the Persian Water Wheel in Jamaica
The Persian Water Wheel has a diameter of six metres (20 feet), and is equipped with blades that rotate the wheel as they come into contact with flowing water. A dam was built to supply a constant flow of water from the Martha Brae River, which is now also used for recreational bamboo rafting. Curved, rectangular buckets were fitted around the outside circumference of the wheel. As the machine rotated, the buckets filled with water, which was carried upward and spilled near the top of the wheel into a wooden trough. The water then flowed by gravity via an iron pipe to Falmouth where it emptied itself into a reservoir. The buckets then returned empty to the bottom of the wheel to repeat the process. This technology aided in the development of Falmouth in the late 1700s/ early 1800s, as every town needs access to potable water. Falmouth is noted for being one of the Caribbean’s best preserved Georgian towns. In its heyday, Falmouth was once called the ‘Paris of the Indies.’ The town was meticulously planned from the start, and even had piped water earlier than New York City.
In 2008, portions of the water wheel were restored and reconstructed after it had fallen into a state of disrepair. During the process, the team used many of the original parts, and was able to recreate the water wheel’s support system, catch basin, and cat walk. The team also discovered the 15 cm (six-inch) cast iron pipes that once carried the water to the reservoir in Water Square. Once restored, the water wheel began lifting its buckets and completing a full rotation every 30 seconds, delivering an estimated 1135.6 litres (300 gallons) of water per minute into the water system.
Meeting Sgt. Wallace
One of my favourite parts of travel are the people I meet. Their faces and stories stick with me. I had the pleasure of meeting the affable police officer Sergeant Wayne Wallace at the water wheel. He noticed us from the car park while we were trying to figure out if we were disturbing a function, and signaled us over. He put my partner on the spot with very blunt questions, but we went on to have a lovely half hour conversation where he imparted relationship advice from his own 23 years of marriage and counting, details about his career and western Jamaica’s history, among other things. I wish I’d thought to take a photo with him, but maybe one day we’ll cross paths again. He took our photos though. Talking to Sgt. Wallace was very refreshing. He embodies all the qualities of a model police officer and citizen. Therefore, I was pleased to discover that Sgt. Wallace was deemed as the police officer who made the most positive impact on Jamaican society in 2020, out of 80 nominees. I hope life blesses him highly as he continues to inspire, serve and protect.
He encouraged us to get married at this spot in Trelawny but let’s see where life takes us.
The Persian Water Wheel was another spot discovered and crossed off my Jamaican bucket list guide: Sightsee Jamaica. Purchase a copy on Amazon to support. I look forward to writing as much as I can in 2023, but I likely won’t be as consistent as I was in 2022. It will pain me to break my 34-week posting streak, but sometimes we have to make sacrifices as we work on other goals. Cheers to good health, safe travels & prosperity this year and beyond, my readers.
‘Til next time.