Chronology:    Bargery Number Main Themes:
1825-29 267 Much faster travel brought by steam power
1830-34 378; 554 Unemployment and destitution of those associated with horses
1835-39 141; 199; 416; 626 Anticipated economic benefits of the railways
1840-44 549  
1845-49 306  
1860-64  473  
1865-69  545
Uncertain 202



End of the coaching era. (The train in the background looks very like one used on the Manchester and Liverpool)
Science Museum/Science Museum and Society Picture Library

The development of self-powered road vehicles was scuppered by the blocking tactics of the various road interests: turn-pike trusts; stage coach companies; and short distance passenger and freight carriers. (See under Steam Coaches). Their short-sightedness gave the more capital intensive and technically demanding railway system, the time needed to develop into a successful economic force.

Ordinary people could not afford to use stage coaches or the coaching inns many of which were exclusively for the benefit of stage coach passengers. Coachmen were disliked for their haughty attitude to other road users and their wild driving. The catastrophic collapse of the stage coach business was a cause for celebration.

When the Liverpool and Manchester Railway opened in 1830, there were 29 stage and mail coaches running daily between Liverpool and Manchester. The rail journey was more than twice as fast and little more than half the price (at second class rates) of the stagecoach journey. Within five months of the opening, only four coaches remained. A few years later, a coaching proprietor claimed that loss of customers to the new London-Birmingham railway forced him to take seven of his nine coaches out of service. The remaining passenger he said were "mostly people who are timid and do not like to go by railroad" and he feared that the number of timid people was rapidly declining.

In contrast to the stage coaches, country people valued stage wagons which were their only means of long distance travel, until the cost of railway travel came down to their level.

"When the poor had to travel they used the old-fashioned stage wagons, drawn by four, six, or even eight horses, which were chiefly used for the carriage of goods. They never moved out of a walk and were in charge of a carter who usually walked beside his team.
[E.W. Bovill, English country Life 1780-1830, 1959]

Stage wagons were used mainly for freight and quickly succumbed to competition from the railways. During 1830s a 'comic singer' called Paul Bedford made his own version of a song about the stage wagon trade.

3 across Articles in this Category: click a link

Bob the Groom

bar036: Dates 1844~1850|

A Groom put out of work by railways tells of the consequent ups and downs of his life.

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Great Western Rail Road, The Or The...

bar141: Dates 1838~1840|

Anticipates the benefits of the railway; the demise of the coaching trade; and, the risks of investing in the railway.

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Brighton Railway

bar045: Dates 1857~1861|

Description of journey from  London to Brighton.

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Dirge of the Dragsman

bar626: Dates 1836~----|

A coachman lament that the railways will put him out of work.

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George Stephenson

bar535: Dates 1865~1869|

Celebration of George Stephenson, railway engineer.

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When This Old Hat Was New

bar549: Dates 1843~----|

Lament for the times including a mention of the impact of steam power. 

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Shillibeers Original Omnibus versus the...

bar378: Dates 1834~1834|

Pre-emptive propaganda against the proposed London and Greenwich railway

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Stagecoachman's Lament

bar554: Dates 1832~1834|

 A stage coach driver bids farewell to his coach. He refuses the offer of work on the railway.

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Steam! Steam!! Steam!!!

bar416: Dates ----~1835|

Begins by celebrating the coming of steam and finishes with predictions of fantastical applications of steam power.

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When George III Was King

bar545: Dates 1856~----|

Times are altered for the worse. Mentions steam coaches and Stevenson.

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Johnny Green's Trip Fro' Owdhum To See...

bar199: Dates 1830~1842|

A weaver describes the railway - notes that it has depressed stage coach trade - but expects new railways to benefit weavers. [199Synopsis] 

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Sonnet on Steam

bar732: Dates ----~1834|

An ostler laments the coming of steam power.

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Sources (texts, music) & Publishing data

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