The Bath Road

    by Bristol Mail


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    8PM - Leaves GPO

    Arrives at Gloucester Coffee House on Picadilly to pick up passengers

    11 miles to Brentford at 920pm

    46 miles to Thatchman allows 5:25 mintues and is there at 2:45 am with 20 minutes for refreshments - off again at 3:05 am

    21.5 miles to Marlborough arrives at 5:45 am 2 hour 40 minutes travel time allowed - gives in timepiece (this was to check the time to make sure all was running to time and the watches were correct)

    13 miles to Calne allow 1;25 mintues arrives at 7:10am

    32 miles to Bristol arrives at 11am (Bath 2 hours before that) In winter it arrived at 11:45



    Coaches go 'down' to Bristol and 'up' to London

    The following are two quotes of the roads of Britain in 1810, both from an American visitor, Simond. The first describes his travel through secondary roads leading to Bath, that is the roads that were not on the main coaching routes:
    "The roads are far from magnificent; they are generally just wide enough for two carriages; without ditches, not deep. A high artificial bank of stone and earth, with bushes growing on the top, too often intercepts all view beyond the next bend of the road, not a hundred yards of which is visible at one time. The horses are in general weak and tired, and unmercifully whipt,--so much so, as to induce us often to interfere in their behalf, choosing rather to go slower than to witness such cruelty."

    However, after leaving Bath and on one of the main Post roads to London he is left with a far more favourable impression of the country, and its roads;
    The country is beautiful, rich and varied with villas and mansions, and dark groves of pines,--shrubs in full bloom, lawns ever green, and gravel walks so neat,--with porter's lodges, built in rough-cast, and stuck all over with flints in their native grotesqueness; for this part of England is a great bed of chalk, full of this singular production (flints). They are broken to pieces with hammers, and spread over the road in thick layers, forming a hard and even surface, upon which the wheels of carriages make no impression. The roads are now wider; kept in good repair, and not deep, notwithstanding the season. The post-horses excellent; and post boys riding instead of sitting. Our rate of travelling does not exceed six miles an hour, stoppages included; but we might go faster if we desired it. We meet with very few post-chaises, but a great many stage-coaches, mails &c. and enormous broad-wheel waggons. The comfort of the inns is our incessant theme at night,--the pleasure of it not yet worn out."

    Below - two coaches meet at night on the road. If you look at the coach on the left you can clearly see the guard. Guards were only carried by the Mailcoaches and were there to make sure the coachman kept to the Post Office's strict timetable, and that the mail was not tampered with. Therefore there were no passengers were allowed to sit with him or keep him company unlike the coachman. Below the guard's seat, you can see the box where the mail was locked away for safety.

    Lamps on the side of the coach behind the coachman shed some light on the road, but maintaining 10-12 miles per hour through the night was still a great feat.


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