Build a Better Wheelbarrow

August 20, 2016 in Articles, Uncategorized

Ironcrete Joyride 1968

Ironcrete Joyride 1968

The wheelbarrow is indispensable for moving soil, loose materials and tools around. Easy to use, manoeuvre and depending upon the ability of the driver and the grip of one’s boots a wheelbarrow can traverse the trickiest of terrain. But is there a better solution?

Over the decades manufacturers have tried to redesign the humble wheelbarrow, even create something more cutting-edge as in the Kirk-Dyson Ballbarrow of the mid 1970’s (image below). Mechanisation always plays a part too, why not add an engine, or even add a barrow body as an add-on item to an existing machine to give it another use? Everything, including wheelbarrows slowly evolve and change from a pedestrian operated item to specific engine powered machines as in the images of many different machines posted below. 

Kirk-Dyson Ball Barrow

Kirk-Dyson BallBarrow

Historically wheelbarrows go back many centuries but the one that gardeners would associate as being ‘old’ is a wooden affair of hefty construction that’s a load in itself. Take the 1909 wheelbarrow (image below) from Coopers of London, made of the best elm boards, ash legs and wheel and ‘well ironed up’ this was a piece of construction once loaded up to test the ability of a young Edwardian under-gardener.

Wheelbarrow from Coopers of Old Kent Road, London. 1909

At the other end of the scale are the 1960’s lightweight yet sturdy wheelbarrows from Ironcrete. These were a large range of wheelbarrows to suit the busy gardener and available with either a galvanized or a red polythene body. Ironcrete wheelbarrows had a lightweight tubular frame and either a solid narrow wheel or a pneumatic tyre. This is something our Edwardian gardener would have dearly loved to have had no doubt. 

The load capacity of the Ironcrete ‘Whopper’ (what a brilliant name!) could be increased with an extension top taking it’s capacity from 4 cu ft and doubling it to 8 cu ft for the adventurous gardener. 

Ironcrete Wheelbarrows from the 1960's.

Ironcrete Wheelbarrows from the 1960’s. The galvanised ‘Whopper’ could have additional side extensions doubling it’s capacity (and unstable-ness no doubt).

Although deviating from the true shape of a wheelbarrow, Ironcrete also created the oddly named ‘Joyride’. A pull-along and push-around affair with two small wheels and an optional tool tray. It’s advertising states that it is ‘Most suitable for ladies and those who find an ordinary wheelbarrow too heavy to manoeuver‘. 

Ironcrete Joyride with optional tool tray.

Ironcrete Joyride with optional tool tray.

In the mid 1960’s British Anzani made something similar to the Joyride and called it the ‘FoldAKart‘ which could be used as a barrow or attached to the back of the British Anzani Lawnrider mower.  Obviously it’s master stroke over all the other wheelbarrows and carts was that it could be folded quickly for easy storage. It also had the British Anzani name which made it stand out as a strong and robust make. 

British Anzani FoldAKArt advert and photo - £9 9s in 1964 for the FoldAKart

British Anzani FoldAKart advert and photo – £9 9s in 1964 for the FoldAKart

As mentioned, wheelbarrow type bodies became added to other tools to increase their usability, a great idea! Amongst the attachments available for the Jalo push hoe such as ploughs and cultivators was indeed a barrow body. This appears to be a clever attachment and not one that would be instantly thought of. 

Jalo Barrow Attachemnet (Ivan Clark)

Jalo Barrow Attachment (Ivan Clark)

Flymo the well known lawnmower manufacturer who also produced a multitude of other garden machines had a barrow attachment for their DM garden tiller, as the advertising says it’s ‘The motorised wheelbarrow that also digs your garden‘, although to be fair I think there’s a fair bit of operator presence required to achieve the task. 

Wheelbarrow attachment for the Flymo DM tiller cultivator

Wheelbarrow attachment for the Flymo DM tiller cultivator

Merry Tiller had amongst it’s fantastic range of extras a load carrier. Not a true wheelbarrow but a motorised helping-hand to get items from A to B with as little effort as possible. 

Merry Tiller Load Carrier

Merry Tiller Load Carrier

Similarly Mayfield also had a great range of attachments. See an image of their brochure.  They also included a front barrow attachment for moving large loads around the plot. 

Mayfield Barrow Attachment

Mayfield Barrow Attachment

The advantages of having a barrow to move items around was not lost of Barford either. Making  ‘A Tipping Truck every Gardener Needs’  to go with the Barford Atom it was ‘a most useful conveyance for garden refuse and produce

BArford Atom Tipping Truck and Advert

Barford Atom Tipping Truck and Advert

Another two manufacturers were Winget, the makers of tractors and also dumpers made the Winget Power Barrow (image left) and Allen made a load carrier (image right) for their Allen Scythe although it does appears a little precarious depending on the load.

Winget Power Barrow and Allen Scythe Load Carrier

Winget Power Barrow and Allen Scythe Load Carrier

Ride on mower manufacturers were not going to miss a trick either and Snapper made a front load carrier for their 1960s/70s Snapper Comet Ride on mower.

Snapper Comet Load Carrier

Snapper Comet Load Carrier

AutoBarrow 1974 Vintage Advert

AutoBarrow 1974 Vintage Advert

There are some other notable manufacturers specifically making load-carrying machines. The most obvious is probably Autobarrow (image right) with a various range of items for their multi-purpose handling unit.

Many other manufacturers have produced barrow attachments or made dumpers and carts over the decades. If you know of any additions then let us know.

Also have a look at the Trucks and Carts  gallery to see what else was available.

3 responses to Build a Better Wheelbarrow

  1. @alan
    found this site and then subsequently Alans post on historic wheelbarrows.
    im looking to research the Braune of Stroud ltd Batric electric barrow – specificaly the muck shifter version with a plough on the front
    i have found a few images searching google but they mysteriously cannot be found anymore. and the others all seem to be other models.
    one image was in an old london newspaper article.
    very little info (intact none I’m aware of so far) only poor quality images . this site/ alan seems like a good place to ask .


    • alan said on June 3, 2020

      Sam, There’s little else I know about the model you are looking for. Newspaper and magazine adverts seem to be a good place to look or even trade reports in magazines. Any photos to aid future researchers can be sen to VHGMC and we can add them to an article.

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