What is Wainwrighting?

A tradesperson with expertise in creating and maintaining wagons and carts is known as a wainwright or cartwright. The ancient terms “wain” (a huge wagon used for farming) and “wright” (a worker or maker), which come from the Old English “waegnwyrhta”, are combined to form the word, wainwright. Numerous artisans, including wheelwrights, blacksmiths, and painters, are employed by a master wainwright.


A wagon often spelled as “waggon”, is a large, four-wheeled vehicle used to convey supplies, goods, agricultural products, and even people when drawn by draught animals or occasionally by humans.

The two-wheeled carts and the lighter, four-wheeled vehicles used primarily for transporting people, such as carriages, are easily separated from wagons. Typically, animals like horses, mules, or oxen pull carts. Wagons can be drawn by one animal or several, frequently in teams or pairs. However, certain wagons may be driven by a person, such as mining corfs.


Wainwright is the term used to describe someone who constructs or fixes wagons. A wain is a special kind of horse- or oxen-drawn, load-carrying vehicle that is more frequently employed for agricultural tasks than for passenger transportation. A wagon or cart, often with four wheels; an example of this is a hay wain. However, the phrase has recently taken on slightly poetical overtones, thus it is not always employed in a technically accurate manner. A two-wheeled “hay wain,” however, would be a hay cart rather than a carriage. Wain is another old English word for chariot. Wain has other connotations and can be used as a verb to carry or convey.

Modern or contemporary animal-drawn wagons may be made of metal rather than wood, and they may use common wheels with rubber tires rather than traditional wagon wheels.

Wagon drivers are referred to as “wagoners,” “teamsters,” “bullocks”, “muleteers,” or simply “drivers.”

Different Types of wagons made from Wainwrighting

  • Beach wagon
  • Farm wagon
  • Freight wagon
  • Delivery wagon
  • Nomadic wagons
  • Living van
  • Steam wagon
  • Irrigation tank wagon
  • Horse-drawn wooden tank wagon
  • War wagon
  • Gravity wagon
  • Chuckwagon
  • Ox wagon
  • Pageant wagon



A cart or dray is a two-wheeled, transport-oriented vehicle that is often drawn by one or more draught animals (Australia and New Zealand). One or more individuals pull or push a handcart.

The flatbed trolley sometimes referred to as a dray or wagon (for freight), is a big transport vehicle with four wheels and generally two or more people inside.

Almost any compact vehicle, including retail carts, golf carts, go-karts, and UTVs, may now be referred to as a “cart,” regardless of the number of wheels, the weight they can carry, or the mode of propulsion.

Horses, donkeys or mules, oxen, and even smaller animals like goats or big dogs can be employed as draught animals for carts.

Types of Carts made from Wainwrighting

  • Cocking cart
  • Dead cart
  • Dogcart
  • Donkey cart
  • Float
  • Governess cart
  • Rally cart
  • Stolkjaerre
  • Tax cart
  • Whitechapel cart
  • Pushcart
  • Food cart
  • Pastry cart
  • Tea cart

Cart and Wagon Making

Carts, which had two wheels and were built by cartwrights, were lighter and simpler to build than wagons since they lacked sophisticated steering mechanisms. Because they were easier to maneuver and less expensive to construct, they were employed wherever feasible for unusual transporting chores. Some of them even had plank seats for passengers. Wainwrights were the people who made wagons, also known as wains, which had four wheels, always with the front wheel being smaller than the rear. The finished cars were painted in the district’s customary colors—primarily red, royal blue, and buff—using oak pins rather than nails.


Local Forms of Wainwrighting

From one county to the next, wagon and cart makers would have produced distinctive designs that were popular regionally.

Issues influencing the Wainwrighting craft’s viability

Market problems: Shifting consumer preferences; brewers’ drays were in demand in the 1980s but are no longer in demand today.

Market issues: There are not many farm wagons remaining since they are not worth what it costs to repair them (value of £3,000–£4,000 compared to £7,000–£8,000 to repair). As a result, relatively few people fix them. At some point, though, things will change, and wagons will become so scarce that their worth will rise, and their demand will soar.

Loss of skills: The abilities required to construct a new vehicle from scratch are those that are most in danger of disappearing. Few people buy new English cars; instead, they either buy English autos to repair or new Eastern European vehicles, which is the major market for wagon manufacturing. Most wheelwrights can fix a wagon (as it has traditionally been done), but only around three or four shops specialize in building new wagons.

Diluting skills: Without necessarily having much experience or expertise, anyone may own a workshop and declare themselves to be a wagon manufacturer.

Business rates: Business rates are particularly costly since a large workshop is required to fit the automobiles inside.

Other Information on Wainwrighting


Wheelwright to wainwright to coachbuilder was the usual progression of the art. A wainwright’s work is less precise than a coachbuilder’s, with fewer trimmings, etc.

Since wagons are not often built—certainly not new—and since fixing an old vehicle or wagon is far simpler than starting from scratch, wheelwrights are no longer primarily wainwrights.

Wheel Making of Wainwrights

Each wheel was specially manufactured for the specific cart, carriage, or other use for which it was intended. Making the wheelwright one of the most important artisans in any hamlet. Tradesperson constructs the wooden wheel components, and the neighborhood blacksmith added the iron rim. Wheelwrights frequently manufactured carts and wagons performed a lot of repairs, and in smaller settlements, they could have also done general carpentry and joinery, including the creation of coffins.


Wainwrighting is specifically a tradesperson who makes carts and wagons. These carts and wagons are used to convey or transport goods and people. In our modern world the need for wainwrighting has obviously decreased and is also impacted by modern technology.  But, there is no doubt that its historical importance is significant.