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.
Section 1 Menu
The Age of Coaching
Introducing a world of horse-drawn public transport
Beginning to End
How long did the Great Age of Coaching Last?
Coaches to All Parts
The world of coach travel - surprisingly familiar; just slower and wetter.
A list of destinations which is remarkably familiar to the modern day traveller.
What was it like to travel by coach on a winter’s day. Come on the first stage of a journey from London to Stamford.
Driving a Mail Coach
Mail coaches were the high speed elite. What was it like to drive them?
Two Short Videos
Although we have no films from the time, modern producers have imagined coach travel for us.
Comparing rail and coach travel in 1888!
Things didn’t always go smoothly and this amusing incident took place on the Great North Road.
A recollection of life in London before taxi cabs, policemen and even electricity.
The northern coaches all stopped here to pick up passengers. The scene was amazing.
One of the many hazards that could be encountered was flood water. This is near St Neots.
A description of the London termini from which coaches ran
A list of London coaching inns and where you could travel to from each.
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.