It’s difficult for us to imagine a time when the only motive power was animals. When we do, we tend to think of a simpler world in which long distance travel was unusual. We know about stage coaches of course but we probably imagine the occasional coach trotting past perhaps once a week.
The reality was very different. People were just as intelligent and resourceful as we are. They simply didn’t yet have engines.
By the 1800s, a countrywide network of coach routes had developed and you could plan an itinerary and travel from one end of the country to another just as we do today.
It was a world far more recognisable than you might expect and long distance travel was efficient and frequent. The only real differences between then and now were speed (coaches averaged eight miles an hour) and comfort (Inside had no heating and outside was exposed to the full force of the weather!)
But that was their world and a crack coach timed at eight miles an hour including stoppages was as exhilarating for them as a transcontinental aeroplane is for us.
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The following pages begin with the development of coach travel before quickly plunging into a world of living memories written in the late 1800s by people who remembered travelling by coach with fond memories and great nostalgia.
Read on and be transported back in time to an age just as exciting as ours but very different . . .
Section 1 Menu
The Age of Coaching
Introducing a world of horse-drawn public transport
Beginning to End
How long did the Great Age of Coaching Last?
Coaches to All Parts
The world of coach travel - surprisingly familiar; just slower and wetter.
A list of destinations which is remarkably familiar to the modern day traveller.
What was it like to travel by coach on a winter’s day. Come on the first stage of a journey from London to Stamford.
Driving a Mail Coach
Mail coaches were the high speed elite. What was it like to drive them?
Two Short Videos
Although we have no films from the time, modern producers have imagined coach travel for us.
Comparing rail and coach travel in 1888!
Things didn’t always go smoothly and this amusing incident took place on the Great North Road.
A recollection of life in London before taxi cabs, policemen and even electricity.
The northern coaches all stopped here to pick up passengers. The scene was amazing.
One of the many hazards that could be encountered was flood water. This is near St Neots.
A description of the London termini from which coaches ran
A list of London coaching inns and where you could travel to from each.
Tales of the Road: This section tells what was it like to travel by stage coach in the mid 1800s.
Travel in England is inseparably connected to the state of our roads. This section looks at the history of British roads.
Wheeled transport evolved over many years. This section looks at how coaches developed.
Home Page of the Coaching Website.