‍Coaching Inns Become Railway Booking Offices

“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.

Next: To Be Decided

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.

Where Could You Go?

A list of destinations which is remarkably familiar to the modern day traveller.

London to Stamford

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.

Then and Now

Comparing rail and coach travel in 1888!

An Incident at Wansford

Things didn’t always go smoothly and this amusing incident took place on the Great North Road.

Charlies and Hackneys

A recollection of life in London before taxi cabs, policemen and even electricity.

The Peacock at Islington

The northern coaches all stopped here to pick up passengers. The scene was amazing.

Perils by Water

One of the many hazards that could be encountered was flood water. This is near St Neots.

London Coaching Inns

A description of the London termini from which coaches ran

Some famous London Inns

A list of London coaching inns and where you could travel to from each.


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Tales of the Road: This section tells what was it like to travel by stage coach in the mid 1800s.

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Travel in England is inseparably connected to the state of our roads. This section looks at the history of British roads.

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Wheeled transport evolved over many years. This section looks at how coaches developed.

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