The water power has been used to manufacture food, drain land and drive machinery for some two thousand years. The first watermills were driven by horizontal wheels and probably worked only one pair of girding stones. The major development in water powered milling came in the first century A.D with the introduction of the vertical waterwheel.
The current Skerries waterwheel is a pitch back powered by a head of water, controlled by a sluice-gate. As the water falls from the wooden trough or flume, it strikes the wheel just before its highest point resulting in an anti- clockwise rotation of the waterwheel and of the machinery and grinding stones within the mill.