History of Wheelbarrows

The humble wheelbarrow is ever present in most allotments and gardens up and down the UK. Simple and effective in design, it’s been an important part of gardening for many years.

But when was the wheelbarrow first invented, and how did it grow to become one of our fondest garden tools?

When was the wheelbarrow first invented?

The common wheelbarrow has far flung and exotic roots, as it can be traced back to third century ancient Asia.

In 231 A.D, Zhuge Liang of Shu Han in China created a single wheel cart for an efficient way of transporting food and supplies to the front lines of battle.

As well as moving food, it was also used to quickly and effectively carry injured soldiers out of ancient battlefields.

This invention helped to give the Shu Han an upper hand & advantage during battles, as one wheelbarrow could carry supplies for four men and could be used to treat the wounded.

At a time where three different groups were vying for control of China and Shu Han, it saw the wheelbarrow become an important and prized piece of equipment.

What was the ancient Chinese wheelbarrow made out of?

As with resources in China at the time, wheelbarrows at the time were made from wood.

A strong material which was in plentiful supply, it ticked the boxes for Zhuge Liang, as many could be manufactured quickly and with relative ease.

When did the wheelbarrow arrive in Europe?

It wasn’t until between the 1170s and 1250s that the barrow wheeled its way into Europe.

At this point, it had a more agricultural use which we are more familiar with today; transporting and helping to distribute fertiliser. This was due to the efficient ease of load, in a time where Europe and the UK relied heavily on farming.

Are plastic wheelbarrows any good?

Luckily, wheelbarrows have come on a lot since the first models. Technology has advanced since the 2nd Century Shu Han & Medieval Europe, with materials now being far more durable and lighter.

Most wheelbarrows now are manufactured from Plastic or Metal. Both are especially hardy for everyday use, compared to wood which was used in ancient times which is much heavier and can eventually rot.

Plastic is often the preferred choice for wheelbarrows due to the durability, but also the lightweight design which allows easy manoeuvrability when using in your garden.

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