The iconic two-wheeled carts still seen at wholesale markets are market porters (alternatively known as Banksmen) barrows used to deliver produce from the market stand to the loading point of someone’s lorry / van.
Despite the increased use of Fork lift Trucks and powered carts they are still very much in use at Wholesale markets throughout the country and the Birmingham Wholesale market still has a number with many having been in use for over 100 years.
The reason they have not been easily replaced is simply down to the design perfected over decades that allows a heavy load to be moved with reasonable force due to the counterbalance of the barrows. The springs meant that stuff wouldn’t vibrate and fall off on the rough & cobbled streets of earlier years.
A seasoned porter can get circa 50 boxes of oranges on a single barrow if loaded correctly. It really is an art and dependent upon knowing the produce and type of container.
The aim once loaded is of course to pick it up and move without tipping it. If you manage to tip it up it still results in much comment and disparaging remarks from fellow porters.
At one time the porters would have to own a porter licence and would be paid by the customer per job, but today the porters are employed by companies within the market.