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The name suggests that the trade is solely about making wheels however most rural wheelwrights made the whole vehicle, be it a farm cart, wagon or carriage. In fact, they were clever carpenters able to make most things from wood. The craft is well described at

They had to know the properties of different wood and would have to buy timber many years in advance to ensure it was weathered correctly. Oak, elm and beech having different properties were used for different parts of the wheel. The spokes were set into the hub at an angle that made the wheel dish to allowed more space between the wheels at the top, while taking the weight of body of the cart on the vertical spokes at the bottom. Once the spokes had been set into the hub two metal bonds were fixed around it by a blacksmith. As metal expands when heated the bands around the hub are applied hot then when the metal cools a tight achieved. The “tyre” was also applied hot and dowsed with cold water drawing the wheel into the correct shape. The final metal work to be added was a “box” placed inside the hollowed out hub to take the axle. The wheelwright had to work closely with the blacksmith. Indeed often a wheelwright family would often consist of wheelwright and blacksmith brothers. An example of this from our tree is the family of:

William JURY [6213] worked as a wheelwright with his father in Beaford until 1881 but had moved to Northam by 1882. His son Alfred John was born in Northam in 1882. In about 1890 they moved again this time to Thelbridge. Here William had a journeyman wheelwright, Charles ROWE, with him. They had another move before 1901 settling in Kingskerswell where William was described as a coach builder & blacksmith and his 19 year old son Alfred John [12049] was a wheelwright, 17 year old William Edward [12048] was a blacksmith and 15 year old Robert [12050] was a painter, thus the whole process to complete coaches was covered within the family.

Family Wheelwrights

Richard ALLAM [11843] Master Wheelwright Islip, Oxfordshire 1841, 1851. Wheelwright Islip 1852. Father of Richard and John.

Richard ALLAM [12047] Wheelwright Islip, Oxfordshire 1841. Preston Bissett, Bucks 1861. Charlton on Otmoor 1881.

John ALLAM [11842] Journeyman wheelwright Islip with father 1851. Wheelwright in Islip 1852 and in Kidlington 1871. Carpenter and Wheelwright in Shipton on Cherwell, Oxfordshire 1881.

John HILL [9402] Wheelwright Kidlington, Oxfordshire. Recorded on the baptism entry for his daughter Mary Ann. His daughter Sarah married Charles BELGROVE.

Charles BELGROVE [6597] Carpenter 1827 to 1836. Wheelwright 1851 in Kidlington. Father of -

William BELGROVE [1137] Carpenter 1851. Carpenter and Wheelwright 1871 Carpenter 1881, 1891 and 1901 in Kidlington.

James BELCHER [13022] Wheelwright 1841 - 1881 West Hanney, Berkshire. Father of Henry, James and George.

Henry BELCHER [14788] Wheelwright 1871 East Hanney, Berkshire. He had his nephew Walter BELCHER [14835] and an apprentice William NEATH working with him. By 1881 he had been widowed, remarried and was living in Sonning working as a coachbuilder.

James BELCHER [14790] and George BELCHER [14842] were wheelwrights working with their father in 1861. James was still with his father in 1871 but now described as a carpenter. George had move to Sonning where he was a wheelwright with Parfit FALLWRIGHT. He moved to Bracknell where he continued to work as a wheelwright 1881 - 1901. In 1901 his son Arthur was a blacksmith’s mate.

Walter BELCHER [14843] was living with James [13022] and Caroline BELCHER as their son in 1861 but in 1871 he was a wheelwright with Henry [14788] as his nephew. He was in fact the son of Ester [14786]. By 1891 he had married and was working as a carpenter in London.

Moses BELCHER [14807] the brother of James [13022] was a wheelwright in Speen, Berkshire in 1841. On later census he was a victualler and farmer,  Beer house and grocer shopkeeper.

William DOWN [11537] Wheelwright in Bow, Devon 1851 and in Merton, Devon 1861, 1871. Father of William, John and Charles.

William DOWN [11757] Wheelwright in Merton, Devon 1861.

John DOWN [12679] Wheelwright and machinist with 2 apprentice wheelwrights in Merton Devon 1881.

Charles DOWN [11758] Apprentice wheelwright with father 1871 aged 15.

Edward DUNSBY [8754] was a carpenter and wheelwright in Cassington, Oxfordshire 1881. By 1891 he had moved to North Leigh, Oxfordshire but was still a carpenter and wheelwright. He was still North Leigh 1901 but now only a Carpenter as was his son Frederick.

John DYMENT [83] a Blacksmith in Beaford, Devon on the census 1881 but a wheelwright and carpenter when he married days later. He was a blacksmith in Crediton, Devon 1891 and became a Producer Gas Engineer by 1901.

Henry FOLLAND [2740] Wheelwright apprentice in Upton Pyne, Devon 1841. Machine Maker in Brampford Speke, Devon 1851. Agricultural machine maker in Exeter, Devon 1861.

James GRIFFIN [2309] Wheelwright in Barford St Michael, Oxford 1881.

John HILL [9402] Wheelwright in Kidlington, Oxfordshire 1813.

Robert JURY [4036] Wheelwright in High Bickington, Devon 1851 and in Beaford Devon 1861-1901. Father of William, Edward, Robert and Alfred.

Robert JURY [8928] Wheelwright with father in Beaford Devon 1881 and 1891 and on his own account in Dolton, Devon 1901.

Alfred JURY [8929] Wheelwright with father in Beaford, Devon 1881 and 1891 and on his own account in Beaford 1901.

Edward JURY [4035]  Wheelwright on marriage record in Beaford, Devon 1879 and wheelwright widower with father 1881.

William JURY [6213] Wheelwright in Beaford, Devon 1871 and 1881 in Thelbridge, Devon 1891 and coachbuilder and blacksmith in Kingskerswell, Devon 1901. Father of Alfred J [12049]

Alfred J JURY [12050] Wheelwright in Kingskerswell Devon 1901.

Robert MESSENGER [13145] Carpenter apprentice of Francis SMITH who was a smith and wheelwright in 1871 in Highclere Hampshire. Robert was a carpenter and wheelwright in 1881 in Winchester St, Whitchurch, Hampshire. In 1891 he was a carpenter and joiner in Woodhay, Hampshire.

Abram Taylor NEWPORT [10026]  Carpenter 1888, Wheelwright & Inn Keeper of 6 Bells Kidlington, Oxfordshire 1891.

Albert Edward NEWPORT [12006] Carpenter & Wheelwright in Kidlington, Oxford.
As yet we have not made a connection between Abram and Albert.

John ROBINSON [8002] Wheelwright in Tadmarton, Oxford 1844. Father of Henry.

Henry ROBINSON [7865] Wheelwright in Bodicote, Oxfordshire 1851 and Carpenter in Pattishall, Northamptonshire 1861.

William SELDON [10734] Wheelwright in Petrockstowe, Devon 1841 - 1881. He appeared in White’s Directory 1861

William SELDON [10736] Wheelwright in Petrockstowe with his father 1861 William [10734].

William SELDON [12700] grandson of William [10734] and probable son of William [10736] was a wheelwright with his grandfather in Petrockstowe, Devon 1881. Later worked as a carpenter.

Richard SELDON [12696] son of William [10734] was Wheelwright in Petrockstowe 1851.

Thomas TOMKINS [8251] Wheelwright in Wacton, Herefordshire 1851

John SHARRATT [14610] Wheelwright born in Yorkshire, he worked between 1841and 1861 in Yardley, Worcestershire. A son and daughter married children of Thomas PRATT [5423] and his wife Ann THORNE.

See also

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