Please bear in mind the following ground rules to ensure your acceptance as a passenger, and more importantly what you might expect to pay, should you ever find yourself back in Regency London, at the start of 1819.
Much like modern times, basic fares can be liable to surcharge
- The Coachman is entitled to decide whether to calculate the fare according to time OR distance. A journey of 5 miles for example would cost 5 shillings – which is the same charge as a 2 hour journey would cost. These charges are per Coach, not per person. Hence it would be wise to ensure you travel with others to avoid meeting the full expense of your journey. (See table of charges above). Should traffic out of London be heavy the Coachman may recalculate his fare according to time, and you will end up footing the bill.
- Every Coach or Chariot hired to go out into the Country, and setting down passengers, after 7pm (between Michaelmas Day and Lady-day, or Sept 25th and March 25th to you) is entitled to the full rate or fare back to the nearest paved roadway, or to any designated taxi tank which lies beyond the paved roadway. Who would have thought that pavements played such an important role in determining fares charged? It is clear that pavements represented urban areas where passengers could be picked up, so the traveller was obliged to compensate his coachman for however long he was off-grid and unable to find new clients.
- Any Coach or Chariot leaving London during the day-time is entitled to sixpence per mile for every mile above 4 miles ridden. So, if you are unlucky enough to live in Woodford Bridge you may incur a surcharge of up to 3 shillings.
- This is an age before standardised times, so it has been decided that sunset begins at 8pm between Lady-day and Michaelmas (25th March to 25th September) and during the winter months sunset falls at 5pm.
- Every Hackney Coachman is obliged to carry four adult persons inside his coach, and a servant outside (on top), if required. Chariots can only take three persons inside, and obligatory servant braving the elements outside. However, if the client wants to squeeze more passengers on board – he must pay one shilling for each person (not being a child in arms or on lap) in addition to the fare.
Beware the Overloaded Coach
Armed with the above information, you should feel more confident about making your way to one of a myriad of London Inns and Wharves from where your journey can be booked, and the fun begins!
Coaching inns were a hub of commercial and social activity
In 1819 there were over 120 different coaching inns available in central London, each having a unique timetable of departure times and modes of transport. Many inns were a hive of commercial activity, where goods and services could be traded – quite often tradesmen used their local inn on business cards. Most inns also offered entertainment alongside accommodation for their clients. Sports such as boxing were a common draw, delaying passengers from leaving too soon. The Magpie & Stump, for example, was able to offer rooms overlooking the courtyard of Newgate Prison, where public executions were held. By tradition the pub sent a final pint to each condemned man.
Coaching Inns – important business centres
If Regency London appeals to you, you might be interested in the fascinating history of one Georgian mansion – or, to learn more about the Regency boxing scene, hear the sad tale of Tom Shelton. For a sense of occasion you could always go to Wicked William’s Hunt – or spend the day at Royal Ascot