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Archive for July, 2018

Stagecoaches

Stagecoaches (not to be confused with Mail Coaches) were used widely around the country as a fairly inexpensive way of travel. The name derives from the “stages” or routes they traveled. Unlike the mail coach, stagecoaches crisscrossed the country. The coach made between 5-7 miles an hour, changing horses every 2-3 hours. Passengers could depart the coach at any point and take another stagecoach traveling in the direction they wished to go. Unless the coach was an express between two large cities, stagecoaches stopped at night. The companies’ owners used their own horses posted along the route. The coach traveled in segments or “stages,” thus the name. Inns servicing stagecoaches were called staging or coaching inns. This is where a passenger could have a meal, freshen up, or spend the night before traveling on.

Travel by stagecoach was not without its problems. People were usually stuffed into the coaches. In the event of difficulties, such as going up a steep hill or the coach becoming stuck in mud or snow, passengers were expected to get out and walk or help get the coach moving again. There were also highway men, and young men who’d bribe a coachman to allow them to drive, thus placing the other passengers in danger.

According to History UK “The Regency period saw great improvements in coach design and road construction, leading to greater speed and comfort for passengers. For example, in 1750 it took around 2 days to travel from Cambridge to London, but by 1820 the journey time had been slashed to under 7 hours. This was the golden age of the stagecoach. Coaches now travelled at around 12 miles per hour, with four coaches per route, two going in each direction with two spare coaches in case of a breakdown.”

Bath Stagecoach Map.

bath-stagecoach-map

Bath Stagecoach

http://collections.britishart.yale.edu/vufind/Record/3631245

Fully loaded stagecoach

Full Stage coach

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Post Chaises (or Yellow Bounders)

For those who wished to travel some distance but didn’t want to lower themselves to taking a stage coach or the mail coach, there were post chaises, often called yellow bounders for their distinctive yellow color, for hire. They usually had only one bench and a window in the front. Sort of like a traveling chariot.

Post chaises were pulled by either a team or a pair and were designed for a postilion to ride the horses (one for a pair and two for a team) so there was no need for a coachman. They weren’t cheap. When hiring a yellow bounder one paid one shilling and six pence (roughly 2.50 British Pounds at a time when on could live in a large house with servants for 1000 British Pounds a year) a mile for a pair of horses, double that for four horses. Not only that, but the postilion only went so far before he and his horses returned to their home coaching inn. Therefore, once you reached the end of his route, you had to hire more horses.

Yellow Bounder 3Yellow Bounder 1

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Hackney Coaches.

If one had to get around Town and couldn’t afford to either keep a town coach or hire one for the Season, hackney coaches (or cabs) were the answer.

Hackney’s had been around since the early 17th century and an owner had to be licenses to operate the coach.

Almost all hackney started out as private town coaches that had been purchased used. They were generally pulled by a pair of horses. Many hackney owners had three horses so that they could be rotated, and so that the owner had a spare horse in the event one horse was injured or died.

By the early 19th century there were over 1000 hackney coaches operating in the London area.

By the mid-1830’s the Handsome cab was invented and began replacing the older hackney coaches.

Much has been made in modern romances of the lack of cleanliness in Hackneys. I am going to hazard a guess that the condition of the coach depended upon which part of London the owner was operating.

If you want to know more, here is an interesting article on hackneys. http://www.georgianindex.net/transportationLondon/Hackney_Coach.html

The first image is of a hackney. The second is a Handsome cab.

Hackney carriage 1

Handsome coach

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Barouche carriages were known for their elegance and expense. These four-wheeled vehicles had a cabriolet top light construction. They were only suitable for good weather in the spring, summer, and early autumn. The carriage was built to be driven by a coachman. As you can see from the images, the sides were low enabling the inhabitants to see and be seen.

Barouche 1

 

barouche 2

 

 

 

The barouche was generally used in Town. If driven in the country the roads would have to be very good.

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The Landau

A Landau was an elegant carriage used mostly by those who liked to ride with friends and wanted to be seen. The carriage had low sides for visibility (of the passengers) and often had a convertible top. They were driven by a coachman and powered by a pair, or a team of four horses. Landaus were typically quite elegant. A description of one is below.

Landau’s were popular during the Grand Strut in the Park (Hyde Park). The earliest mention of a landau was in the late 18th century.

morning-post-landau

Landau 2

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I came across this post by Geri Walton on coach building that I thought might interest you.
 
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