The mail coach era began when "post boys" on horses were replaced by coaches in 1784 (Modert 345). In 1796, 16 mail coaches came and left London every day, while 15 more served cross-country stations (345). By 1811, 220 mail coaches covered over 11,000 miles daily (345). Traveling at a speed of eight miles per hour, mail coaches kept strict time schedules and traveled with such precise timing that "people set their watches by the daily passing" (Robinson 239).
Mail coaches also delivered passengers. They carried four inside on two facing seats, each only 3 1/2 feet wide (Robinson 238). The distance between seat and roof was only 3'4" which made for close quarters, especially if "one of the passengers was an unpleasant companion or of too generous physical proportions" (239). Usually three passengers rode on the outside sitting in the front of the coach beside and behind the coachman (239). The roof was used for luggage and newspaper, and in the rear of the coach the mail guard stood in "solitary grandeur" (239).
The mail coach era thrived until 1836 when the Post Office began to utilize the railway. Eventually trains displaced horses for all but remote routes (Robinson 223).
Rates and Terms
Postal Moneys Used for War
Postal Reform of 1840
Quotes from Austen's Characters