What? Drunk again, you lazy old beggar?

It was during my college days that the following took place. It was on a fine summer's morning, or rather I should say, * in the merry, merry month of May,' that when travelling by the ' Louth Mail,' and coming in sight of our change, our ' Jehu ' turning round on his box, accosted the guard with, ' Now, Jemmy, blow your horn : I don't see any horses out' Jemmy at once responded to the call, and ' gav' em a couple of blasts ' on the ' sweet-toned instrument.' ' Whatever can be up? ' said Jemmy, as he again put the horn to his mouth and gave a still louder and more impressive blast, which also seemed to have no effect. * Oh! I see how it is,' said he. * Drunk again last night I'll warrant; ' and with this we arrived at a little wayside kind of stables, or barn-looking edifice standing all alone by the side of the road. A stepladder stood against a door in the side of the building and proclaimed that it led to the hay-loft. No horses were to be seen, and nothing seemed to be alive at such an early time of day except a cock and hen, who were evidently on the look-out for their morning meal. * Brave chanticleer ' was proclaiming the morn, to the best of his ability, and seemed almost to be standing on tiptoes to effect his purpose. Still nothing else showed any signs of life. Jehu got down and be-gan to take out his horses himself, with a ' D — that drunken old rascal! I'll bet he's asleep in the hay-loft; just nip up, Jemmy, and pull him down neck and crop, if you can find him.' Whereupon Jemmy sprung up the ladder, found his man fast asleep, and seizing him by the legs, pulled him down * bodily ' into the road, exclaiming, ' What, drunk again last night, were you, you lazy old beggar! Who do you think is going to do your work for you, I wonder? ' Accidents will happen in the best regulated families, they say, and this was one of them ' on the Road,' and it was a somewhat unusual one to happen to a mail.   

Next: Go on to Section 2: The Age of Coaching


See two short videos

Section 1:

Living Memories

Introducing the real life stories collected in the late 1800s

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?

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.

Perils by Water

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


The people who could afford to travel were educated in - among other things - Latin!

Red Kites

Yes, they were common in the early 1800s. They’d all gone by the 1880s. Attitudes were different then!

The Cost of Travel by Coach

What did it cost to make a long distance coach journey?

The Desire to Drive a Coach

Young gentlemen often fancied themselves as coachmen. Unlike today, you could often ‘have a go’ with the reins.

Two Short Videos
Although we have no films from the time, modern producers have imagined coach travel for us.

The Peacock at Islington

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

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.


Go to Living Memories

Anecdotes written by people who actually travelled on the coaches

Go to the Age of Coaching

The coachmen, the inns, the coach proprietors - they’re all here. Come in and meet them

Go to the Roads

Britain’s roads were pretty impassable for most of our history.  Coach travel was very difficult until they improved

Go to The Coaches

Wheeled transport evolved over many years. Find out how coaches developed

Go to Home Page

Home Page of the Coaching Website


Sources and information about how I came to create this website