A Shire Book: Stage and Mail Coaches by David Mountfield
Model Number: 9780747805540
Shire Album 416
It is often forgotten that in the early nineteenth century, before the arrival of the railways that were the foundation of Victorian Britain’s posterity, the country had the fastest and most efficient form of public overland transport the world had ever seen, a system that made an impact on the public hardly less than the railway themselves a few years later. Until the late eighteenth century travel by stage coach was uncomfortable and inconvenient, an ordeal to be undertaken only when absolutely necessary. But from the 1780s, spurred by the introduction of the mail coach, better roads and technical advances such as four-in-hand driving, coach travel was revolutionised and, by the 1820s, what had once been a hideous chore became a fashionable pastime and a boon to business. But this golden age of public long-distance coaching was short. Within twenty years, as the railways spread across Britain, it was in rapid decline, unable to compete with its faster, more comfortable and much cheaper rival.