Bourn’s reference to the “narrow-wheel waggon” touches a matter which formed the subject of hot debate for generations. It was urged that the narrow wheels of waggons were largely the means of cutting up the roads, and no doubt these did contribute to the general condition of rut and ridge that characterised them. This view was adopted by Parliament, and to encourage the use of wide wheels a system of turnpike tolls was adopted which treated the wide tire far more leniently than the narrow; anything under 9 inches in width being considered narrow.
Bourn was a warm advocate for wide wheels, and the book from which the above passage is taken describes an improved waggon invented by himself; the drawing is from the inventor’s work. The wheels of this vehicle resemble small garden rollers; they are 2 feet high and 16 inches wide. Each is attached independently to the body of the waggon and the fore wheels being placed side by side in the centre, while the hind wheels are set wide apart, the waggon is practically designed to fulfil the functions of a road-roller. It does not appear that Bourn’s invention obtained any general acceptance, which is perhaps not very surprising.