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Block wheeled car

Block wheeled cars were a step up the evolutionary ladder from the slide car. Their wheels were made from three pieces of wood dowelled together and hooped with an iron tyre.  The tyre consisted of two parts and was nailed onto the wheel, although later they were sometimes sweated onto the wheel, as with spoked wheels.  Click to enlarge: A block wheeled car at the Ulster American Folk ParkThe square axle shaft was passed through the centre of the wheel and wedged in with wood. The rounded ends of the axle fitted into supports under the shaft.

In this way, the wheels were both under and inside the body of the cart, and the whole unit of axle and two wheels revolved together. This was an inefficient system compared to a freely revolving wheel, but on steep slopes one wheel acted as a brake on the other. The load was carried in a creel mounted on the cart, or in a box body made as part of the cart. The platform of the cart could be covered by a straw mat to become a passenger vehicle, and passengers travelled with their legs dangling over the sides. This idea was further developed into the jaunting car. Unlike the later Scotch cart which was always painted, the wheeled car was rarely painted.

The wheeled car was a common means of transport around Dublin in the 1650s. Due to the poor state of the roads wheeled vehicles were less common through the rest of the country. The linen trade saw these carts become more common as the 1700s progressed. They were used to convey linen from Ulster to the linen markets of Dublin. By the 1780s, they had become a common feature of the Tyrone countryside, as before that date, wheeled vehicles were reported as rare. To have one was a mark of social distinction. Until the middle 1800s it was considered respectable to go to the Meeting house in North Antrim in such vehicles.