“Old Coaching Inns” - LMS
Before the railways, parcels had to travel by stagecoach or carrier's wagon. You could hand them in or collect them from the inns that the stagecoaches and carrier's wagons stopped at on a particular route.
When the railways arrived, then change was swift and most of the principle stagecoach operators and coaching inn proprietors sold out their interests to railway companies as the coaches stopped running. In a largely horse-drawn world local delivery companies such as Pickfords began to collect and deliver parcels from receiving offices scattered across many cities and the railway companies' own horse drawn vehicles would collect the accumulated items take them to the railway termini for onward long-distance travel.
The stagecoach and carriers "booking offices" became "receiving offices" for particular railway companies, and in due course, also began to sell passenger train tickets. Many of these premises were very old, dating back to the 17th century or even earlier. But with the coaches and their passengers gone, many were demolished and rebuilt for other uses, although the old booking office was often retained for a while (the last of these to survive into the 1860s seems to have been The Catherine Wheel in Borough High Street).
Even when a new building was erected, a receiving office was incorporated into the building, which might even retain the name of the inn which it had replaced, although the use of the new building was completely different. Thus it was that a 20thc railway company, the LMS, found itself with offices scattered throughout central London, while the horse still played a significant role in the urban transport of small goods and parcels, with romantic names like The George and Blue Boar, The Spread Eagle and The Golden Cross. Names which would have been familiar to Mr. Pickwick - whose very surname Dickens borrowed from a well-known stagecoach proprietor. This book is a fascinating insight into an almost forgotten aspect of railway history.
The Age of Coaching
The world of long-distance coach travel
Beginning to End
How long did the Great Age of Coaching Last?
Travel in the Coaching Age
The world of coach travel - surprisingly familiar; just slower and wetter
A list of destinations which is remarkably familiar to the modern day traveller
We’re familiar with railway termini but what were the departure points like in the Age of Coaching?
Here are most of the coaching departure points in London, together withe here you could travel to from each one
An example of how politics influenced attitudes in some inns along the road
Not a war, just passengers trying to grab a bite to eat on the road
Coach drivers were an elite group, but as the coaching age declined, they lost their importance
Illegal, but overlooked by the proprietors, this was a coachman’s perk
William was one of the most successful coach proprietors - and he survived the move to railways
Coach travel was not without risk. Here are some reported coach accidents
The story of the Mail Coaches, how the mail evolved and what they were like
Anecdotes written by people who actually travelled on the coaches
The coachmen, the inns, the coach proprietors - they’re all here. Come in and meet them
Britain’s roads were pretty impassable for most of our history. Coach travel was very difficult until they improved
Wheeled transport evolved over many years. Find out how coaches developed
Home Page of the Coaching Website
Sources and information about how I came to create this website