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 The "main plank wheel" is probably the wheel at the top of the barrow runs shown in this picture of the Tring cutting

The horse pulled the barrow and the navvy steadied the barrow as it was pulled upward. If the horse did not pull steadily, the barrow might become unstable. The navvy then had to judge which way to jump in order to avoid being crushed. In many cases the navvy came bounding down the ramp followed by the barrow. It was said that each man had numerous accidents of this type.

Reference: Thompson, Matt. The Picturesque Railway: the Lithographs of John Cooke Bourne (The History Press, Stroud, 2015) p41

 

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