Ever since there have been wheels there have been wheelwrights, and as their trade developed over the centuries, they became specialist carriage and cart builders; indeed collectively – and in conjunction with smiths – wheelwrights were the Ford and General Motors of their era. For thousands of years the wheel was made of solid timber, and only in more recent centuries did it evolve into a joinery construction with a frame and felloes bound with iron. Even in its most primitive form, the wheel was the instigator of the gradual movement towards the mass transit of goods and people; it was the protagonist of development and heralded the march of civilisation.
Although carters and consequently the wheelwright’s trade were heavily impacted by the construction of the railway network in the latter part of the 19th century, it was the motor industry of the 20th century, which sounded the death knell of this profession. Although modest, composed as it is of the most significant hand tools used by wheelwrights in the production of wooden wheels and other constituent parts for carts and carriages, this particular section of the TMS is nonetheless highly significant.