Even before the invention of the modern castor wheels that we use today, history already has a record of how the Egyptians of the ancient times have utilized logs to roll giant stone blocks used to construct their pyramids. It might even come as a surprise that the first wheel which is the basic inspiration of today’s castors is not even used to carry anything. It is believed that some 3500 years ago, the early Mesopotamians use wheels to make clay pottery.
The combination of the “ancient technologies” used by the Egyptians and the Mesopotamians only came around sometime by the end of the 13th century, during the beginning of the Italian Renaissance period. It is said that the black plague which killed nearly half the entire population of Europe resulted to a massive demand for manpower. Labour became very expensive and for the economy to thrive, businessmen have to look for alternatives to compensate for the lack of manpower.
It is assumed that this immediate need for manpower pushed the great thinkers of the 13th century to innovate. Since wheels have already been extensively used for transportation during this period, it is easy to imagine how the concept of using wheels to move around furniture came into existence. However, the use of wheeled furniture outside Europe only rose to popularity by the end of the 16th century.
The castor wheels used during this period are made of wood or carved stone; it was the Germans who developed the first synthetic castor wheels made of a new type of rubber and plastic products. During the World War II, Germany has to cut ties with the nations that supply the raw materials needed by their industries. To compensate for this loss, they have to rely on their own resources. So, they started producing products made of rubber and plastic – including castor wheels.
The new synthetic rubber material developed by Germany became the basis for the many high-tech plastic products available to us now. In fact, it can be safety assumed that the manufacturers of the best castors in the market today found their inspiration in the castor wheels produced by Germany during the war.
It is very interesting to know that one of the simplest machines that we use today has a very complex history. Castor wheels came into existence after merging two ancient technologies. For it to be perfected, the wheels have to go through an entire World War!