OMG!! That wheel brings back memories! It looks just like the wheel I started on at our local art center (close to 40 years ago) . The wheel sits on a table with the rope almost hanging to the floor, and then to engage the motor to turn the wheel, you step on the hanging board at the end of the rope. It makes for a very primitive electric wheel. There were 6 of us in my first class with 2 'wheels' - we took turns (in more ways than 1). We did learn to make pots. Despite the basic primitive wheel, I fell in love with clay and throwing. Several years later I decided to take a 'real wheel class' at Edina Art Center in the Twin Cities, an hour drive each way. When I called to register, I asked the gal who was registering me for class "how many people will I have to share a wheel with?" and after a long pause she replied "each student has their own wheel to use". My response was '"SIGN ME UP" and I made that drive for classes for 10 years - great teachers there! Now i finally have my own wheel and love to share the knowledge that other potters have so generously shared.
You do not mention where you are from, but you can replace the motor and belts easily (try a hardware store or farm supply) and do some of those safety measures that Neil measures. Once you begin having fun with it, you don't want to loose any work time because a finger or such got caught in the mechanics of the wheel.
The wheel may be bare bones (in more ways than one) but it is a wheel....and a step towards a bigger and better wheel. Good luck and happy potting!!