Monday, November 5, 2012

Travel to Tourism in England from the 17th to 19th centuries

Travel to Tourism in England from the 17th to 19th centuries by Suzi Love

The Romans built roads in Britain for military use so these first roads were straight lines between A and B and built to take the marching feet of their Legions. When they left, people lived in a quieter agricultural existence with roads that were little more than cart tracks meandering between villages.

If people needed to visit another town, they mainly walked. As traded increased and life became busier, better transport was needed to carry supplies and people and it became a legal requirement that each parish looked after their own roads. The chosen Surveyor of Highways could use horses, carts and tools of the richer inhabitants and could order community members to work for free on roads for six working days every year. This idea wasn't successful - naturally!

Travel remained slow, uncomfortable, and unpredictable and until turnpikes were built, people simply avoided traveling. The first toll road allowed was in 1663 and the second in 1695, yet at the beginning of the 18th century there were still hardly any turnpikes.
Turnpikes out of London 

 During the 18th century however, there was a huge increase in the number of  privately run toll roads or turnpikes until more than 500 turnpike trusts administered around 13,000 miles of road. The Turnpike Trust fixed gates across roads and charged tolls to road users, then using that money to improve roads and were responsible for most road improvements done. Roads didn’t actually have any surface so though a pike road was better than a non-pike road, they still weren't very good. Travel times did become faster so people were encouraged to explore other areas although some travelers tried to evade the tolls which led to a law which fined people for toll invasion. 

People embraced these changes. By 1830, there were around 1000 Turnpike Trusts, with approximately 10 to 12 miles of road to look after each. By 1840, there were about 8,000 turnpikes and approximately 15,000 miles of new road.  Surveyors were employed to build better roads and plan proper road drainage eg  John Macadam and Thomas Telford and John Macadam invented a new road surface which made roads smoother and travel more comfortable.
New road drainage systems

Times on Toll Roads

In 1700
In 1800
50 hours
16 hours
2 days
less than 12 hours
256 hours
60 hours
90 hours
28 hours
6 days
3 days
50 hours
19 hours

The cheapest and fastest way to travel across Britain was by mail coach, though journeys over rough and wet roads could be extremely uncomfortable.  Stage coaches were available, but if the interior was overcrowded some passengers had to ride on top of the coach, despite any bad weather.

In Robert Southey's Letters From England he talks about the drawback of traveling by chaise.....Every time the chaise stops at the end of a leg of travel, they have to change into a different chaise. They don't just change horses, they also change vehicles. And some stage coaches had seating for sixteen passengers. The passengers sat sideways on two benches facing each other, eight per side.

Many books were written with maps and guides
to the best towns to visit and glowing descriptions
of the most pleasurable or beauteous spots across England. 

A new display of the beauties of England: 
or, a description of the most elegant or magnificent public edifices, royal palaces, noblemen's and gentlemen's seats, and other curiosities, ... in different parts of the kingdom. Adorned with a variety of copper plate cuts, neatly engraved. Volume the first

Kearsley's traveller's entertaining guide through Great Britain; or, A description of the great and principal cross-roads ...

People read about the town of Hampstead and the Assembly Room which provided entertainment in the place of its dearly lamented mineral waters or about Chiswick, a pleasant village in Middlesex situated on the Thames, and about six miles from London. 

Or Richmond Park, across from which Syon House's gardens were extended by the Duke of Northumberland or Twickenham, where the famous poet Mr. Pope resided.

Pleasure Gardens

Pleasure gardens built at the large houses included lakes for boating and gardens for strolling and many owners invited visitors to see their wondrous displays. 

Visitors increased so much thought that some titled owners of large estates complained about their lack of peace due to the constant stream of visitors wanting to see Temples, pagodas and Follies built in their gardens or to explore the local villages with their churches, battle sites, and country fairs.  

Royal Gardens at Kew with Temple of Athenas
Royal Gardens at Kew with ornamental lake and Temple of Arthenas 

Travelling around London
If you were very wealthy, you traveled by private coach. Otherwise you hired a carriage or traveled by boat or barge. Hackney Carriages were suitable for short trips and had a horse, driver, and a carriage, although carriages were often not in good repair.  

Hackney Carriages were used for short trips and had a horse, driver, and a carriage, although carriages were often not in good repair. To travel a long distance, other arrangements had to be made but more and books were printed containing timetables, fares, and cities and towns traveled through so even the most inexperienced traveler could plan journeys.

Hackney Carriages and Chairmen

For one Day of 12 Hours
10s. 0d.
For one Hour
1s. 6d.
For every Hour after the first
1s. 0d.
From any of the Inns of Court to any part of St. James's, or City of Westminster, except beyond Tuttle street
1s. 0d.
From the Inns of Court, or thereabouts, to the Royal Exchange
1s. 0d.
From any of the Inns of Court to the Tower, Aldgate, Bishopsgate, or thereabouts
1s. 6d.
 This information comes from William Stowe's Survey dating to 1722 - From Pascal Bonenfant

An alternative calculation for Hackney Carriages later in the century was 1s. per 1.5 miles.

This table for the Fares for Hired Coaches in the 18th century is from - Olsen, Kirstin, Daily life in 18th-century England Greenwood Publishing Group, 1999

Example and Date
London to York 1790
£2 10s. inside the coach; £1 5s. outside
Mail Coach
London to York 1790
£3 3s. inside the coach; £1 11s. 6d. outside
Mail Coach
London to Ipswich 
£1 1s. inside the coach; 10s. 6d. outside
Post Chaise
4 wheels, 2 horses 1757-1781
9d. per mile
Post Chaise
4 wheels, 2 horses 1793-1799
1s. per mile
Post Chaise
Oxford to Castle Cary, Somerset 1774
£1 18s.
Post Coach
London to Exeter 1781
£1 18s.
Stage Coach

2d.-3d. per mile

However, the Stage Coach was not as cheap as it sounded. Passengers were expected to tip the guards and the coachmen and to pay for their own food and lodging. Sir Walter Scott, travelling from Edinburgh to London, spent nine times the basic fare on these extras.

Between 1810-1830, there was a coaching boom with around 3,000 coaches on the roads. Coaches could transport people cheaply, though canals remained the best way to transporting cargo. This changed after the 1820-1840 railway boom when trains took over as the most comfortable and dependable way to travel.

From London Bridge to Limehouse, New Crane, Shadwell Dock, Bell Wharf, Ratcliff Cross
1s. 0d.
0s. 6d.
To Wapping Dock, Wapping New & Old Stairs, the Hermitage, Rotherhith Church Stairs
0s. 6d.
0s. 3d.
From St. Olave's to Rotherhith Church Stairs, and Rotherhith Stairs
0s. 6d.
0s. 3d.
From Billingsgate and St. Olave's to St. Saviour's Mill
0s. 6d.
0s. 3d.
All the Stairs between London Bridge and Westminster
0s. 6d.
0s. 3d.
From either side above Bridge to Lambeth and Vauxhall
1s. 0d.
0s. 6d.
From Whitehall to Lambeth & Vauxhall
0s. 6d.
0s. 3d.
From the Temple, Dorset, Blackfriars Stairs, and Paul's Wharf, to Lambeth
0s. 8d.
0s. 4d.
Over the Water directly betwixt Vauxhall and Limehouse
0s. 4d.
0s. 2d.

Sources -

Gray's New Book Of Roads - Google eBook
Kearsley's traveller's entertaining guide through Great Britain or A description of the great and principal cross-roads … Google eBook
A New Display of the Beauties of England or A Description of the Most Elegant or Magnificent Public Edifices, Royal Palaces etc. Volume 1 - Google eBook
The Everyday Book of The Year Relating the Popular Amusements - Google eBook
Travel in 18th Century England by Pascal Bonenfant -

Suzi Love's new historical erotic romance, The Viscount's Pleasure House, will be released from Crimson Romance on 3rd December, 2012. Cover and Pre Order links coming soon.  Web site 
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Allison Butler said...

Hi Suzi,

Thanks so much for this interesting post.

The improvements to the roads must have been an amazing, eye-opeing experience for so many people. It's difficult to imagine not traveling outside my small, country town:)

Congratulations on your up-coming release, 'The Viscount's Pleasure House'. Sounds Hot! Can't wait to read it:)

Cheryl Leigh said...

Thanks for a wonderful post, Suzi. Very handy to have the tables of fares etc. in one place for reference. :)

I'm looking forward to reading The Viscount's Pleasure House. Congrats on your first release!

Cathryn Hein said...

Wow, what an excellent source of information. Especially loved the chart on how long it took to get somewhere.

Great stuff, Suzi!

Alison Stuart said...

BRILLIANT post, Suzi - a definite keeper for future reference. I've noticed on lists that the "how long does it take..." question pops up frequently. I have a small contribution to add to your collection which I will send by email.

Suzi said...

Thanks for all the comments, ladies.
Glad you enjoyed the information.
Alison is right. Travel times are one of the most frequently asked questions by historical authors.

Marianne Theresa said...

SUZ, This is a GREAT post. Full of lots of interesting info.
I always learn something new from you wonderful Historical people.
I had to walk home from work yesterday (daughter had accident and used my car) BUT ANYWAY, it is only about 2ks on a un-footpathed, semi-rural road, with 2 slight hilly grades, it took me about 45 mins.
It wasn't uncomfortable and I had comfortable well supportive joggers on, BUT I cant imagine what they did back then.

Anonymous said...

SUZ, sorry for chiming in a bit late. :)
What a GREAT post.
I always learn something new and interesting for the wonderful Historical ladies here.

I had to walk home form work yesterday.
It is only 2ks with 2 slight hilly inclines, but being semi-rural where there are no footpaths it can be pretty dangerous at times.
BUT even with comfy supportive shoes it took me about 40 mins.
Gosh I don't know how they did it back then, with their lack of or No shoes and hauling the carts etc that they did.

Kat Sheridan said...

What a lot of really great information! Thank you for sharing it. I'm definitely boo9kmarking for future reference!