04 October 2013

Coach travel from London in 1658 and 1739

[C]ompared with the stage-coaches of the best period, travelling by the earlier stage-coaches was a sorry achievement. Here is an advertisement of stage-coaches of the year 1658:—

"From the 26th April there will continue to go stage-coaches from the George Inn, without Aldersgate, London, unto the several cities and towns, for the rates and at the times hereafter mentioned and declared:—

"Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday—To Salisbury, in two days, for xx. s.; to Blandford and Dorchester, in two days and half, for xxx. s.; to Burput, in three days, for xxx. s.; to Exmister, Hunnington, and Exeter, in four days, for xl. s.; to Stamford, in two days, for xx. s.; ... to York, in four days, for xl. s."

Indeed the charges might have been reckoned by time, the travelling being at the rate of about 10s. a day. Another advertisement in 1739 thus sets forth the merits of some of the stage-coaches of the period:—

"Exeter Flying Stage-coach in three days, and Dorchester and Blandford in two days. Go from the Saracen's Head Inn, in Friday Street, London, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday; and from the New Inn, in Exeter, every Tuesday and Thursday." Then the advertisement makes known the fact, with regard to another coach, that the stage begins "Flying on Monday next." They were not satisfied in those days with a coach "going," "running," or "proceeding," but they set them "flying" at the rates of speed which may be gathered from these notices. Nearly thirty years later another advertisement set forth that the Taunton Flying Machine, hung on steel springs, sets out from the Saracen's Head Inn, in Friday Street, London, and Taunton, every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, at three o'clock in the morning, the journey taking two days. There were places inside for six passengers, and the fares were as follows, viz.:—

To Taunton, £1 16 0
" Ilminster,  1 14 0
" Yeovil,  1   8 0
" Sherborne,  1   8 0
" Shaftesbury,  1   4 0

Outside passengers, and children in the lap, were half these fares.

- James Wilson Hyde, The Royal Mail: Its Curiosities and Romance, 3rd ed., London, 1889

See also:
HistoryAn old Wandle snuff mill, 13 January 2011
History: Mr Pepys in Old Clapham, 1 February 2010
History: The mysterious Mr Tibbet, 27 April 2009
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