Mail Coaches Leaving London

“On any night the spectacle was beautiful.  The coaches looked magnificent. Every one of them had been thoroughly inspected during the day — their wheels, axles, linchpins, poles, glasses and lamps had all been critically probed, tested and cleaned.  And every horse had been groomed with as much rigour as if they belonged to a private gentleman. The sight of the mail coaches lined up as the mail

But the best part of the spectacle was watching the coaches set off. Post-office servants constantly call out the great ancestral names of cities—Lincoln, Winchester, Portsmouth, Gloucester, Oxford, Bristol, Manchester, York, Newcastle, Edinburgh, Glasgow, Perth, Stirling, Aberdeen—and as they call each one, you hear the thunder of lids locked down upon the mail-bags as a coach prepares for drawing off.  The horses stamp and snort in readiness before bounding off with the action and gestures of leopards.  What stir! what sea-like ferment! what a thundering of wheels! what a trampling of hoofs! what a sounding of trumpets!”

Next: The cost of coach travel

Section 1:

Living Memories

Introduction
Introducing the real life stories collected in the late 1800s

London to Stamford

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?

Then and Now

Comparing rail and coach travel in 1888!

An Incident at Wansford

Things didn’t always go smoothly and this amusing incident took place on the Great North Road.

Charlies and Hackneys

A recollection of life in London before taxi cabs, policemen and even electricity.

Perils by Water

One of the many hazards that could be encountered was flood water. This is near St Neots.

Latin

The people who could afford to travel were educated in - among other things - Latin!

Red Kites

Yes, they were common in the early 1800s. They’d all gone by the 1880s. Attitudes were different then!

The Cost of Travel by Coach

What did it cost to make a long distance coach journey?

The Desire to Drive a Coach

Young gentlemen often fancied themselves as coachmen. Unlike today, you could often ‘have a go’ with the reins.

Two Short Videos
Although we have no films from the time, modern producers have imagined coach travel for us.

The Peacock at Islington

The northern coaches all stopped here to pick up passengers. The scene was amazing.

London Coaching Inns

A description of the London termini from which coaches ran

Some famous London Inns

A list of London coaching inns and where you could travel to from each.

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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