This cart without wheels, built with wicker and wood, with seats showing bright coloured fabrics, glided like a sled and was pulled by two oxen led by a “boieiro” (a herdsman dressed in white, with flat boots and straw hat). The herdsman carried a lamp with him to light the way in the absence of street lighting. The story goes that the first oxcart built in Madeira, in 1477, belonged to the English captain C. Balkey. Until the first quarter of the twentieth century this was the most popular form of transport in Funchal and it was classified into two categories: luxury carts and modest carts. The first was aimed at tourism services, weddings and funerals, and the other was used in all other situations.
The Madeiran ox cart will have been influenced by the model of the ox cart from the Northeast of Portugal and the traditional Madeiran cart, an unwheeled drag vehicle used for the transport of goods. It was a means of transport with capacity for four people, widely used in the first half of the 19th century, essentially in the city of Funchal, as it was unsuitable for the steep slopes and paths of rural areas. However, its use was not very common among the people. Only the more affluent classes had a yoke of oxen or horses to use as transport and would have conditions for the regular maintenance, necessary for this type of vehicles. . . . “It resembles a type of carriage, without wheels, dragged by oxen. It consists of a wooden box, or braided part of wickers, made of chestnut-tree wood, til or Brazilian mahogany, supported by piles of dynamometer half springs on the threshold, which is covered by a metallic ribbon”.