For the edification of those who were never on a coach it may be well to describe what the term ' Shouldering' means. 

' Shouldering,' or carrying ' shoulder sticks,' was this : ' Thro Passengers,' or any passengers getting on to the coach at any inn, or change, where there was an authorised booking-office, were entered in the ' way bill,' and the proceeds thereof went into the pockets of the proprietors of the coach. It would, however, sometimes happen that some person would meet the coach on the road between the towns, or changes, who wanted ' a ride ' without going through the form of ' booking,' and as he could probably get off for much less by making friends with the coachman than he would In the regular way, this kind of conversation would take place between him and the coachman who pulls up to see If he's worth having : ' Can you give us a ride to-day? ' ' How far are you going? ' ' Oh! only to Biggles- wade, or Huntingdon,' or any other town he might name. ' How much do you want? ' ' Five shillings,' perhaps the coachman would say, or whatever he thought his passenger, to be, would be likely to give. 'Very well, I don't mind giving that' 'Jump up then, I'll pull up before we get into the town, and you can walk through whilst we're changing, but you must mind and not let " Old Crouch," or " Old Barker," or whoever horsed the coach, see you; but you must look sharp, and get a bit out of the town whilst we are changing. Remember — I'll pull up for you when I catch you up on the other side of the town.' Thus our friend would again resume his seat, and at the next town or change perform the same ' anticks ' till he arrived at his destination, when the coachman would take the five shillings and what is called 'Stuff the Monkey ' with it, and thus do his little bit of ' Shouldering,' which upon some occasions was not otherwise than a profitable trade. But it required a little caution, as some of the ' shoulder sticks ' were occasionally not ' up to the time of day ' and if they were suspected of such dodges, the innkeeper would be a bit suspicious and be on the look-out. And if an)'thing was found out the coachman was severely handled for ' Shouldering.' 

Next: William Chaplin

Section 2:

The Age of Coaching


‍​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


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


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




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


Sources and information about how I came to create this website