Wagons at Work: A Transport Revolution from Below – the Case of Sweden, 1750-1850
Publikation/Tidskrift/Serie: Agricultural History Review
Förlag: BAHS - British Agricultural History Society
The introduction of turnpike trusts has been considered to be an integral part of the rapid decline in transport costs in England. Institutional change in the transport system or the lack thereof has been used to explain if and when a transport revolution occurred in different localities. However, improved roads are just one component of declining inland transport costs. In this paper, we specifically analyse how the transport means on roads (i.e., animal carts and wagons) developed in the absence of major institutional changes to the road system. We use Scania, a province located in southernmost Sweden, during the period 1750–1850 as a case study of the development of transport means during the transformation from a rural economy to an emerging industrial one. Our main finding is the independent role of individuals in lowering their own transport costs, as demonstrated by the notably large increase in the value of wagons relative to other commodities and by the increasing share of wagons equipped with iron wheels instead of wooden wheels and with iron axles instead of wooden axles. This finding indicates that it was possible to lower transport costs in preindustrial Europe without an institutional change of the road system.
- Economic History
- ISSN: 0002-1490