Coaching Inns and Politics

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Section 2:

The Age of Coaching

Introduction

‍​The world of long-distance coach travel

An Early Advertisement

A coach advertisement from 1706

Beginning to End
How long did the Great Age of Coaching Last?

Two Coaching Periods
The age of coach travel falls into two distinct phases

The First Coaching Period
Coaches in the early period were uncomfortable, slow and dangerous

Highwaymen
The scourge of the early coaching industry, these robbers eventually disappeared

Transition
The change from the early period to the late happened because life in Britain was altering

The Second Coaching Period
This is the Great Age of Coach Travel - surprisingly familiar; just slower and wetter

Facts and Figures
A look at prices, costs and numbers involved in coaching

Different Ways to Travel
There were stagecoaches and mail coaches, and more besides

Destinations

The list of places you could go to is remarkably familiar to the modern traveller

London Coaching Inns

We’re familiar with railway termini but what were the departure points like in the Age of Coaching?

Famous London Coaching Inns

‍​Here are most of the coaching departure points in London, together withe here you could travel to from each one

Inns and Politics

An example of how politics influenced attitudes in some inns along the road

The Battle of Barnet

Not a war, just passengers trying to grab a bite to eat on the road

The Coachmen

‍​Coach drivers were an elite group, but as the coaching age declined, they lost their importance

An Industry at Full Gallop

‍​The first half of the 19th century saw coaching at its peak

Inns, Drivers & Passengers

‍​Who were the travellers and who owned the horses and coaches? Find out here

One Coach Proprietor

William Chaplin was one of the most successful coach proprietors - and he survived the move to railways

Swan With Two Necks

One of Chaplin’s Inn has an unusual name which comes from history

The Cost of Coach Travel

We complain about rail fares but coach fares were far higher

Cost to Proprietors

What did it cost to run a coaching business?

The Value of Money

To understand coaching prices you must compare them with present day values

Accidents

Coach travel was not without risk. Here are some reported  coach accidents

The Post Office

This is the story of the Mail Coaches, how the mail evolved and what mailcoaches were like

Itineraries

A set of possible journeys that you might wish to make

Death by Steam

The railways effectively killed the coaching industry very quickly. Here’s what happened 

Inns Become Booking Offices

City inns had to change when the coaching trade dried up. Here’s how they coped


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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

Background

Sources and information about how I came to create this website

Home Page

Home Page of the Coaching Website

This account looks back to 1808 and talks about the politics of the inns which served travellers. The reference to ‘posting’ refers to the hire of a private carriage with a pair of horses to take you from A to B. In the very early days of coaching this was quite common but by the 1800s it would have been an expensive option and so only a higher class of traveller would able to afford it. It’s interesting to note that stagecoach travellers were seen as slightly inferior, despite the fact that a stagecoach ticket cost about a year’s pay for an ordinary worker:-

“The two principal inns were the “Red Lion” and the “Green Man.”  It was, and is now in some degree, a town of inns, but these were the headquarters of the two great political parties.  Neither was a “coaching” inn, for they despised trafficking with ordinary travellers, and devoted themselves wholly to the posting business.  The “Red Lion” was originally the “Antelope.”  Standing in the most favourable position for intercepting the stream of post-chaises from London, it generally secured the pick of business going that way, unless indeed the political bias of gentlemen going down into the country forbade them to hire post-horses at a Tory house.  In that case, they went to the “Green Man,” further on, which was Whig.  And perhaps, in sacrificing to politics, they got inferior horses!  The “Green Man” placed in midst of the town, was in receipt of the up traffic, and was the largest establishment, keeping twenty-six pairs of horses and eleven postboys, against the eighteen pairs and eight postboys of the “Red Lion”; and it is recorded that between May 9th and 11th, when, on May 10th, 1808, two celebrated prizefighters, Gully and Gregson, fought at Beechwood Park, Sir John Sebright’s place down the road, near Flamstead, no fewer than one hundred and eighty-seven pairs of horses were changed.”



Next: The Battle of Barnet