THE COACHING AGE

‍Coaches in the 1700s

The Edinburgh Courant of 1754 contained the following advertisement:—

THE EDINBURGH STAGE COACH,

for the better accommodation of passengers, will be altered to a new genteel, two-end, glass coach machine, being on steel springs, exceeding light, and easy to go in ten days in summer and twelve in winter; to set out the

First Tuesday in March,

and continue it from Hosea Eastgate’s, the Coach and Horses in Dean Street, Soho, London, and from John Somerville’s in the Canongate, Edinburgh, every other Tuesday, and meet at Burrow Bridge on Saturday night and set out from thence on Monday morning, and get to London and Edinburgh on Friday.  In winter to set out from London to Edinburgh every other (alternate) Monday morning, and to go to Burrow Bridge on Saturday night.  Passengers to pay as usual.

Performed, if God permits, by

Your dutiful servant,

Hosea Eastgate.

Even Hosea Eastgate’s conveyance stands forth as a miracle of swiftness and frequency when compared with the coach of 1763, which set out once a month and took a fortnight, if the weather was favourable!  Probably this degeneracy of coaches was due to the practice of travellers clubbing together to hire a post-chaise for the journey.  This was a plan eminently p. 35characteristic of the Scottish mind.  It both secured quicker travelling and saved expense.  The Edinburgh papers of that time often contained advertisements inquiring for a fellow-passenger to share these costs and charges.

Edinburgh, as a matter of fact, even now a far cry, was beyond the ken of most Londoners in those times, and London was to Edinburgh folks a place dimly heard of, and never to be visited, save perhaps once in a lifetime.  York, half-way, was better known, and was well supplied with coaches.  The “Black Swan” in Coney Street, York, received and sent forth a coach—in after years known as the “York Old Coach”—so early as 1698.  This appears to have always laid up for the winter and come out again in April, like the cuckoo, as a harbinger of spring.  One of these spring announcements was discovered, some years since, in an old drawer at the “Black Swan.”  It runs:—

York Four Days

Stage-Coach.

Begins on Friday the 12th of April 1706.

All that are defirous to pafs from London to York, or from York to London, or any other Place on that Road; Let them Repair to the Black Swan in Holbourn in London, and to the Black Swan in Coney Street in York.

At both which Places they may be received in a Stage Coach every Monday, Wednefday, and Friday, which performs the whole Journey in Four Days (if God permits).  And fets forth at Five in the Morning.

And returns from York to Stamford in two days, and from Stamford by Huntingdon to London in two days more.  And the like Stages on their return.

Allowing each Paffenger 14lb. weight, and all above 3d. a Pound.

Performed By

Benjamin Kingman.

Henry Harrifon.

Walter Bayne’s.

Alfo this gives Notice that Newcaftle Stage Coach fets out from York every Monday and Friday, and from Newcaftle every Monday and Friday.

p. 36It is singular that this coach should have had a “Black Swan” at either end of its journey.  The London house was in later years the well-known “Black Swan Distillery” in Holborn.

To display the many coaches, their names and times of arrival and departure in these pages would afford but dull reading.  Besides, Paterson and Cary, those encyclopædic old road-books, contain lists of them in interminable array: the “Highflyers,” “Rockinghams,” “Unions,” “Amitys,” “Defiances,” “Wellingtons,” “Bluchers,” “Nelsons,” “Rodneys,” and what not.  There was so extraordinary a run upon these popular names that they are often triplicated—and sometimes occur six times—on the local and byroad coaches; with the result that if the traveller desired to travel by the “Highflyer,” let us say, to Edinburgh, he had to carefully sort it out from other “Highflyers” which flew not only to Leeds but to all kinds of obscure places.

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.

Go to Section 3

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

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