It’s difficult for us to imagine a time when the only motive power was animals. When we do, we tend to think of a simpler world in which long distance travel was unusual. We know about stage coaches of course but we probably imagine the occasional coach trotting past perhaps once a week.
The reality was very different. People were just as intelligent and resourceful as we are. They simply didn’t yet have engines.
By the 1800s, a countrywide network of coach routes had developed and you could plan an itinerary and travel from one end of the country to another just as we do today.
It was a world far more recognisable than you might expect and long distance travel was efficient and frequent. The only real differences between then and now were speed (coaches averaged eight miles an hour) and comfort (Inside had no heating and outside was exposed to the full force of the weather!)
But that was their world and a crack coach timed at eight miles an hour including stoppages was as exhilarating for them as a transcontinental aeroplane is for us.
The following pages fill in the background to the living memories in Section 1. Find out about the coach proprietors, the inns and the destinations. It’s all here.
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