Planes, trains, and automobiles... Nope. Not in 1747. Today, we will talk about how people traveled in the mid-1700s. New here? Welcome! Hope for Charity is my debut novel and is in the process of finding a home for publication. This series, The Life and Times of Hope for Charity, is about the era in which Hope for Charity is set. Jump in here, or go back to the first episode. So glad you came!
Since horses were a means of travel for many during this era, I thought I'd introduce you to the sire (Flying Childers pictured above) of a horse you will meet many times in Hope for Charity, Flying Brave. Isn't he beautiful?
Roadways were most often maintained by the locals in and around the towns and villages of England up until the Industrial Revolution. Turnpike Trusts (Turnpike trusts were authorized by Acts of Parliament to build, maintain and operate toll roads in Britain) began in the late sixteen hundreds. However, these toll roads hadn't become common at this time except on the major highways leading into London and the Great North Road that traveled from London to Scotland.
That being said, the roads in Hope for Charity were not part of a Turnpike Trust except for one on the Great North Road leading into Wetherby. During this period, travel increased as trade increased from one town to another. Roads were often made by droves of animals, like cattle and sheep being moved from one place to another, and foot and wagon traffic. Picture dirt and rocky roads, potholed, dusty, or muddy.
Unless traveling by horse or on foot, travelers used a variety of conveyances depending on their needs. Not all of these mentioned are in Hope for Charity, and this is not an exhaustive list.
By the mid-18th century, England was crisscrossed with coach routes, and hundreds of inns were spread out at seven to 10-mile stages across the land. The coach stopped at the end of each stage to change horses and allow passengers to refresh themselves.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, stagecoaches were often targeted by highwaymen such as Dick Turpin and Claude Duval. Today we have rather a romanticised notion of highwaymen with their cries of ‘Stand and Deliver!’, but in reality these masked men terrorised the roads of England. The punishment for highway robbery was hanging and many highwaymen met their maker at the gallows at Tyburn.
Carriage or Post Chaise-
These were owned most often by the wealthy and came in a variety of designs. Accidents were common. Footmen would often hang onto the back of a carriage so they could right it after it tipped over which could happen many times in the course of a journey. The vehicles used anywhere from two to six horses.
A hackney coach is a four-wheeled vehicle drawn by two horses, with the ability to hold six passengers. They have a basic design with the original style being described as a “primitive springless box on wheels.
These vehicles usually carried two people, although sometimes four with benches back to back, and were pulled by one or two horses. They could be fancy or simple.
"a strong low cart or wagon without sides for hauling heavy loads"-Merriam-Webster.
Just to reiterate quickly, not everyone could afford to own these vehicles and/or horses. Unless their work allowed them the use of these vehicles their only means of travel was to walk or hire someone to carry them. The hand cart or wheelbarrow was useful for people who needed to cart goods or luggage from one place to another.
This has been an interesting subject to research. I hope you enjoyed this glimpse of travel in The Life and Times of Hope for Charity. Which vehicle did you like the most? The Pony Carts look awfully fun to me! I wouldn't want to race them as men often did in those days, though. Next month we'll plan to look at fashion. Make sure to subscribe if you haven't already so you don't miss a thing!
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