“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!”
Introducing the real life stories collected in the late 1800s
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?
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.
One of the many hazards that could be encountered was flood water. This is near St Neots.
The people who could afford to travel were educated in - among other things - Latin!
Yes, they were common in the early 1800s. They’d all gone by the 1880s. Attitudes were different then!
What did it cost to make a long distance coach journey?
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 northern coaches all stopped here to pick up passengers. The scene was amazing.
A description of the London termini from which coaches ran
A list of London coaching inns and where you could travel to from each.
Anecdotes written by people who actually travelled on the coaches
The coachmen, the inns, the coach proprietors - they’re all here. Come in and meet them
Britain’s roads were pretty impassable for most of our history. Coach travel was very difficult until they improved
Wheeled transport evolved over many years. Find out how coaches developed
Home Page of the Coaching Website
Sources and information about how I came to create this website