Flying Coaches

In 1754, a new coach service called the “Manchester Flying Coach” was introduced. But it still took four and a half days to travel the 182 miles to London. In 1758, it was joined by the “Liverpool Flying Machine”. This covered the 206 miles to London in only three days, the fare being two guineas.

“Flying” had implied speed since the days of the Flying Waggons. The secret behind the new faster coaches was the use of teams of horses stationed along the route and changed at regular intervals, and eventually the prefix “fly” came to signify this. In addition to the “Flying” coaches, “fly-wagons” carried goods by road, and “fly-boats” did the same on the canals. They were all were faster than ordinary wagons and boats because they, too, relied on regular changes of horse.

There followed a period of intense development of the roads and the services running on them. Many turnpikes were created. Road users had to pay, but that meant that, despite inefficiencies in the turnpike system, more money was spent on roads. Engineers such as "Blind Jack" Metcalf, and later John McAdam, and Thomas Telford straightened the routes, improved the road surface, and built bridges to take roads leaping over rivers. The “flying” horses and improved roads enabled stage-coaches to travel faster.

By the late 1700s this rate of progress had continued. The pressure to move goods and people faster and more cheaply simply never slowed.

The canal system enabled enormous loads of raw materials and finished goods to be transported, albeit at a walking pace and only when the canals were not frozen over in Winter, but that’s another story. On the roads the need for speed continued.

There followed a period of intense development of the roads and the services running on them. Many turnpikes were created. Road users had to pay, but that meant that, despite inefficiencies in the turnpike system, more money was spent on roads. (See Turnpikes page).

Engineers such as "Blind Jack" Metcalf, and later John McAdam, and Thomas Telford straightened the routes, improved the road surface, and built bridges to take roads leaping over rivers. (See road making pages).

The "flying" horses and improved roads enabled stage-coaches to travel faster and faster.


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Section 4:

The Coaches

Introduction

‍ The world of long-distance coach travel.

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

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