An Industry at Full Gallop

By 1830, stage-coaches were an industry at full gallop. They were going just about as fast as was possible using only the power of horses and they had become fashionable conveyances each having a grand name. Their drivers were the elite workers of the period. Even their horses knew they were superior as they cantered, faster than any other conveyance, along “their” stretch of the turnpike.

The stage-coach industry had reached a degree of speed, reliability, and complexity far removed from its beginning in 1657. Roads were rapid and safe. Travel was in vogue. Travellers with time and money had a very sophisticated set of travel facilities at their disposal.

Short routes enabled those living in small country towns and villages to visit the nearest big town, conduct some business there, and return home the same day. Longer routes criss-crossed the country, linking major towns, and many minor ones. The longer journeys usually involved an overnight stay, or at least overnight travel.

A stage-coach travelled about 100 miles in twelve hours, so for the 200 miles from Cheshire to London, Bristol, or Edinburgh, the traveller had a choice. Either travel non-stop and finish the journey in 24 hours, or stop overnight en-route and take two days. Those travelling longer distances had similar choices.

Mail and post coaches wooed the non-stop travellers. “Day coaches” and coaching inns provided an integrated service for those who preferred to rest overnight. To cater for day-coach travellers, several large towns, London, Birmingham, Bristol, Manchester, etc., located about a hundred miles apart, had developed into travel-hubs. Each was the focal point for many stage-coach routes, and had several large Inns and Hotels.

In addition to overnight accommodation, the larger Coaching Inns also provided complex travel facilities. They could usually arrange a through-journey to anywhere in the country, and to the main continental European destinations. A journey may have needed several changes of stage-coach and overnight stops, but it could be arranged by the booking-clerk in the travel office of one of these Inns . . . for a price.

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Section 4:

The Coaches


‍​The world of long-distance coach travel.








Go to Living Memories

Anecdotes written by people who actually travelled on the coaches

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

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

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