‍Explanation of ‘Shouldering’


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.' 

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Two Short Videos
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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.

The Peacock at Islington

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

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

London Coaching Inns

A description of the London termini from which coaches ran

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