The journey from London to Bristol could take between two and three days and would be undertaken using cart-horses pulling wagons. They were known as 'flying machines' which tells us a lot about travel at that time. They were built in a variety of shapes, and covered with black leather. Their motion was described as "like a ship rocking and beating against a heavy sea, straining all her timbers”.
One writer of the time describes what it was like travelling inside one of these wagons. “The machine was "crammed full of passengers, including fat men, sick children, a parrot, a bag of red herrings, a double barrelled shot gun (afraid loaded), and a snarling lap dog. When awakened from shallow slumbers, had cramp in one leg and the other in a ladies bandbox.” This was an inside passenger. Outside the machine, the passengers fared no better: "my eye was cut by the lash of the clumsy coachman's whip. My hat was blown off into a pond. My companions were two apprehended murderers, a sheep stealer in irons and a drunk asleep behind us. "
History of Coaches
Very Early Coaches
In the Middle Ages, coshes were extremely rare.
The first wheeled transport was the Stage Waggon.
As time went on, roads and speed improved - a little.
First Stage Coach
Stage coaches began to appear in the 17th century.
Coach travel improved over the next 190 years.
Tales of the Road: This section tells what was it like to travel by stage coach in the mid 1800s.
Travel in England is inseparably connected to the state of our roads. This section looks at the history of British roads.
Wheeled transport evolved over many years. This section looks at how coaches developed.
Home Page of the Coaching Website.