The first scheduled stage coach ran from Chester to London. It began in 1657. There are other claims to be the first coaching service but they were all around this time and the Chester coach was certainly one of the first, if not the actual first.
It ran between London and Chester and was a commercial success. Other coach services quickly followed.
Both roads and coaches gradually improved during the 1700s and 1800s until, by the middle of the 19th century, the country was networked by dozens of stage and mail coaches running to strict timetables at speeds of between eight and eleven miles an hour, day and night, and connecting all parts of the United Kingdom. A network of coaching inns every ten or twelve miles peppered the country to service both the coaches and their passengers.
The coaching age came to a swift end when the railways were built. As each line opened, the coaches which had served its route lost their passengers and stopped running.
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From the first coach in 1657 to the last in around 1848 we have a period of one hundred and ninety-one years which saw the beginning, the growth and perfection, and ultimately the final extinction of the old coaching era.
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.