London in 1819 was a busting, thriving city. You could travel to pretty well any part of the country on long distance stage coaches which departed from Inns across the city. Over 120 of them served the coaches and were the places where you started or finished your journey.

Each inn had stabling for as many horses as were needed for the coaches that ran to and from it. Each team of four horses would pull a coach for one stage of about ten or so miles. They would then be rested in the stables while another team took the coach on to the next staging point. After resting and feeding, the first team would then take a different coach back to its home inn and stables. This pattern happened right across the country with teams of horses travelling up and down one stage.

Some inns stabled many horses and coaches ran to many destinations. Others focussed on a particular area. The coaches were all privately owned, not by companies as they would be today, but by individual businessmen who took a great financial risk in providing the service. 

A few owners became very successful. One of the most famous was William Chaplin. He owned several coaching inns and also owned the coaches that ran from them together with the horses that worked the first stage out of London. The Swan with 2 necks, the Spread Eagle and the White Horse all belonged to William Chaplin. He was also ahead of his time in having a brand image so his coaches could be recognised by their colour and by the two-necked swan, white horse or eagle painted across the back.

Find out more at the Wicked William website.

Next: Some Famous Inns

Section 2:

The Age of Coaching

Introduction

‍​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

Where Could You Go?

A list of destinations which is remarkably familiar to the modern day 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

Shouldering

Illegal, but overlooked by the proprietors, this was a coachman’s perk

William Chaplin

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

Accidents

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

The Royal Mail

The story of the Mail Coaches, how the mail evolved and what they were like

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Go to Living Memories

Anecdotes written by people who actually travelled on the coaches

Go to the Age of Coaching

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

Go to the Roads

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

Go to The Coaches

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

Go to Home Page

Home Page of the Coaching Website

Background

Sources and information about how I came to create this website