THE COACHING AGE

‍What? Drunk again, you lazy old beggar?

'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.   

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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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Go to Section 1

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

Go to Section 2

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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