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Until the early 1800s, goods were commonly moved around Bristol on horse-drawn sleds, which were used in preference to carts for several reasons. Because sleds were low on the ground, it was easy to roll barrels onto them. In some streets in the centre of the town, wine merchants had cellars just beneath the pavement; the city's authorities felt that heavy-wheeled vehicles might fall through into them or disturb maturing wines with the vibrations of their wheels. In 1651, a local law decreed that if any cart with ironbound wheels was found within the city walls it would have its wheels confiscated. During the 1720s, Daniel Defoe noted that the use of sleds wore down the pavements to such an extent that the surface was potentially lethal. Over time, the sleds became known as "gee-hoes"; the reason for this is unclear, although cart drivers, either to spur on horses or to bring them to a halt, commonly used the words "gee" and "ho". Bristol's sled drivers were notoriously aggressive, frequently running their sleds against the edge of the pavement, injuring pedestrians and street animals as they went. By the early 1800s sleds fell into disuse, unable to match the efficiency of wheeled vehicles and the new four-wheeled carts that were fitted with windlasses to haul up heavy barrels.

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