Mail coaches

Since becoming a service open to the public in the 17th century, the postal delivery service had largely remained the same with post carriers carrying the mail.

In 1784, John Palmer put forward the suggestion of using coaches to transport the mail. The idea was initially met with resistance but eventually a trial run was launched between Bristol and London. The trial was a success and routes from London to Norwich, Liverpool, Leeds, Dover, Portsmouth, Poole, Exeter, Gloucester, Worcester, Holyhead and Carlisle were introduced in spring 1785. A service to Edinburgh was added a year later.

The coaches averaged 7 to 8 miles per hour in summer and 5 miles per hour in winter. Fresh horses were supplied every 10 to 15 miles.

Coaches were slowly phased out during the 1840s and 1850s, their role being replaced by trains as the railway network expanded.

Related content >

Related content >

Related content >