THE COACHING AGE

‍Explanation of ‘Shouldering’

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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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.

Where Could You Go?

A list of destinations which is remarkably familiar to the modern day traveller.

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?

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

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.

The Peacock at Islington

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

Perils by Water

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

Some famous London Inns

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

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Wheeled transport evolved over many years. This section looks at how coaches developed.

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