This memory tells of an incident when fresh horses were not ready when the mail coach arrived at a change:-

“It was during my college days that the following took place. It was early on a fine summer’s morning ‘in the merry, merry month of May,’ and I was travelling by the ‘Louth Mail.’

Coming in sight of the next change, our ‘Jehu’ * turned round on his box, and called to the guard: 

‘Now, Jemmy, blow your horn. I don't see any horses out’.

Jemmy at once responded, and ‘gave 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. Then he said:

‘Oh! I see how it is! Drunk again last night I'll warrant,’ and with this we arrived at a little wayside kind of stables, a barn-looking edifice standing all alone by the side of the road. A stepladder stood against a door in the side of the building which obviously led to a hay loft. No horses were to be seen, and nothing seemed to be moving at such an early time of day except a cock and hen, who were evidently on the look-out for their breakfast. ‘Brave chanticleer’ (as cockerels are called) was proclaiming the morn, to the best of his ability, and seemed almost to be standing on tiptoes to effect his purpose. Nothing else showed any signs of life.

Jehu got down and began to get the horses out himself, muttering ‘Damn 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 scampered 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?’

Strange things often happen on coach journeys and this was certainly an amusing incident. It was, however, a very unusual one to happen to a mail coach and the man who horsed coach – or rather on this occasion, should have horsed it, could have found himself in a lot of trouble with the Post Office if we had reported him. As it was, we were not delayed for long and Jehu made up the time in the next stage, so he was not reported this time.”

*Jehu is often used in the books. It was obviously a common term in coaching days. It refers to the driver of the coach.

Dictionary definition:

Jehu [pronounced ‘jee-hyoo’ or ‘jee-hoo’] noun

•    a king of Israel noted for his furious chariot attacks. II Kings 9.

•    a fast driver.

•    the driver of a cab or coach.

Next: Then and Now

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.


Part 1: Living Memories

Anecdotes written by people who actually travelled on the coaches

Part 2: The Age of Coaching

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

Part 3: The Roads

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

Part 4: The Coaches

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


Sources and information about how I came to create this website

Home Page

Home Page of the Coaching Website