Chapter Three

Chapter Three

Mail Coaches

National Postal Museum Postcard

This type of coach first appeared on the British Mail coaching scene during the early 1820's. Designed and built by Finch Vidler and Edward Parratt.

The Coaching Era :-

In the introduction to the book "Transport in the Industrial Revolution" Michael J Freeman points out that the Mailcoaches and the stagecoaches "...existed primarily to meet the needs of merchants, manufacturers and the business community as a whole. They developed from the last quarter of the 18th century in response to the quickening pace of the economy, to the evolving order of merchants and industrialists to whom an efficient and deepening contact network was a fundamental necessity. The ability to track market prices closely, to buy or sell when profit margins were greatest, to achieve a quicker and more reliable circulation of capital, to read the opportunities for expansion — all these things hinged upon the coaching system.

It was not simply a matter of facilitating contact and speeding up the conveyance of letters, the latter bearing information on prices, transmitting orders and bills of payment and establishing terms of trade. Alongside this, there was the intensive traffic in parcels and small packages, that in trade samples above all. Stagecoaches were used for conveying samples ranging from raw cotton and wool to yarn, thread and cloth, from bar iron to precision tools and from hops to drinking ale...."

National Postal Museum postcard :

1836 : Based on a design by John Waude, this style of mailcoach

represented the culmination of 50 years of mail coach development.

These two postcards were part of the set designed by Richard Blake and issued by the National Postal Museum to commemorate the 200th Anniversary of the Carriage of Mail by Coach. They were issued in July 1984.

The mail coaches were the top order of coaches on the road, and they were run primarily for the transport of the mails and for passengers. They were so reliable that country towns set their clocks by their arrival. For instance, the mail coaches from London reached Reading (38 miles away) at ten past one in the morning and Newbury(55 miles) at five minutes past three in the morning. (Nearly two hours to cover 17 miles). These towns were the destination for Mr Goodall's next journey from his London Head Office.

Journey to Reading & Newbury

This letter is addressed to Messrs Goodall and Co of 97 Watling Street London, unlike the previous correspondence, which was addressed to Alston and Goodall, but at the same address. It is dated 13th May 1829, and has four postal markings :-

1) a black circular provincial datestamp of Newbury May 13 1829. (This type of datestamp was allocated to towns which had an annual turnover of more than £1000.

2) a red circular double-ring morning duty stamp applied in London the next day 14 May 1829

3) and 4) manuscript charge marks 8(eightpence) — one on the front and one on the back. Eightpence was the cost of sending a single sheet letter a distance of between 50 and 80 miles. Newbury is 55 miles west of London on the Bath road.

The letter is from Michael Goodall again, and he has called at various businesses in Reading on the way — as can be seen from the orders he has included on the inside of the letter.

Dear Alston,

If Mr. Hindeman has got his trimmings you must send me the best assortment you can with dresses etc to 3 Cups Inn, Bath, by Saturday morning, or I shall be very short there. I should have some nice trimgs (trimmings) such as Sandys and Leemings for trade in Bath & Bristol. Do what you can for me in scollops and insertions, also books and mulls and any flounces you can spare — I find a few ask'd for.

Lawrence will call next month and pay a/c or remit before he comes up. Weston, though good and safe, a shuffler, will cut him — not paid his a/c. I saw him and he made an appointment at 2oclock yesterday and went out of town and did not return all day. Called here on Botman, Norris and Attree,

Yours Truly

M. Goodall.

The orders he has taken, or items sold were to R. Lawrence & Son and John Maggs both of Reading, and Miss Camfield of Newbury. He also gives instructions as to how the goods are to be forwarded. For instance for Miss Camfield, he says send a nice assortment of narrow and middle width jaconet and cambric flounces open work and open edges and 2 or 3 nice books Scollops and insertions on approbation,Coach Belle Savage.

For John Maggs of Reading 1 piece 6/4 NAINSOOK per coach.

For R Lawrence and Son of Reading he wants an assortment of stripes, shaded and double glazed cambric with trimmings and flounces to be sent by coach Black Lion, Water Lane.

He also adds a comment for this one — "Please be particular in doing this well, do not put too much fat on"
It is presumably a reference to the profit margin. The entries have been initialled either by J.A (John Alston?) or A.K. (this may be the A. Knight who appears later in the correspondence)


Definitions

Jaconet :

A cotton fabric manufactured in England, a plain cotton cloth of medium thickness or weight, lighter than shirting and heavier than mull.

Nainsook :

A cotton fabric, a kind of muslin or jaconet of Indian origin

Cambric :

a fine white linen originally made in Cambray in Flanders, also an imitation made of hardspun cotton yarn — the material of handkerchiefs


Chapter Four

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