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,
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
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.
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.
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