By 1706 there were many more coaches operating long distant routes. Here is a typical advertisement from the time. This was the time when my home town of Stamford was famously “Two days from London and two days from York!” I think the “Huntingdon in the advertisement must be a misprint because it should clearly read “London”.
However, change was afoot and the great driver was the Industrial Revolution which began in the mid 1700s.
Life in Britain had been improving despite the disruptions which took place during the 1600s - most notably the Civil War (1642-51), Oliver Cromwell’s “Protectorate” (1653-58) and the Great Plague or 1665.
Agriculture had been undergoing a quiet revolution as the Norfolk Four-Field system of crop rotation was introduced along with selective breeding of farm animals. The result was an unprecedented increase in food production which meant that the population could be fed at lower prices with less effort than ever before. Britain already had a vast supply of mineral resources such as iron and coal and a population that was healthier and did not have to spend so much time just feeding itself, led to a period of creativity in which new inventions exploited these resources and industry expanded massively.
Of course industry relies on transport and so there was an increase in demand for improved transport services. As Manchester became a big industrial centre, the heart of the world cotton manufacturing industry, the port of Liverpool developed links with suppliers and customers worldwide. The need to transport raw materials and finished goods expanded exponentially as did the need for people to travel for business purposes.
History of Coaches
Very Early Coaches
In the Middle Ages, coshes were extremely rare.
The first wheeled transport was the Stage Waggon.
As time went on, roads and speed improved - a little.
First Stage Coach
Stage coaches began to appear in the 17th century.
Coach travel improved over the next 190 years.
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.