Gospel Car 'No 11 Ebenezer' (replica) at Black Country Living Museum
The Wesleyan and Primitive Methodists
and Church Army all used 'Gospel cars'
in the nineteenth and early twentieth
century. Within Methodism, horsedrawn
wagons were partly replaced by
hand-pushed 'trek carts' in the inter-war
years, and finally by deaconess' caravans
in the 1950s.
This faithful reproduction of Car No 11 was built in 2011, and is currently housed on the Boat Dock at the Black Country Living Museum. This serves to link it within the museum campus with one of the historically marginalized groups - the boat and barge people - to whom the Gospel Car missioners were reaching out. The inside of the Gospel Car can be viewed from the front platform even when no-one is specifically on duty, so visitors can see for themselves how the Gospel Car operated. It was a little home on wheels - what are seats during the day were beds at night. It was a little church on wheels - the bigger audience would be addressed from the platform while the smaller audience would be invited inside. It was a little audio-visual centre - see the organ and the pictures hanging from the all. What you may not see, because they are stored out of sight, are the gramophone, the percussion band instruments and the magic lantern. It sounds wonderful, but with walls of just a single plank thick it would certainly be very very cold on many a winter night.
The Black Country Living Museum, Tipton Road, Dudley, West Midlands DY1 4SQ