During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a huge variety of vehicles. Because there were so many, it sometimes became confusing as to their names, where they originated from, and the differences between vehicles. Thus, to help people understand titles, origins, and descriptions of vehicles from the 1700 and 1800s, here is a list from L to R.
Landau – It is believed that the name came from the German town Landau, in Bavaria, where it was supposedly first built. A description of the Landau in 1790 claims: Continue reading →
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a huge variety of vehicles. Because there were so many, it sometimes became confusing as to their names, where they originated from, and the differences between the vehicles. Thus, to help people understand titles, origins, and descriptions of vehicles from the 1700 and 1800s, here is a list from D to K. Continue reading →
During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, there were a huge variety of vehicles. Because there were so many, it sometimes became confusing as to their names, where the vehicles originated from, and the meaning of their titles. Thus, to help people understand titles, origins, and descriptions of vehicles from the 1700 and 1800s, here is a list from A to C. Continue reading →
Karl Drais was a prolific German inventor who invented the Laufmaschine (“running machine”), nicknamed the dandy horse. Later, the Laufmaschine was called the velocipede, draisine (English), or draisienne (French). Drais’s first rode his horseless invention on 12 June 1817. The ride took over an hour, involved a distance of less than 5 miles, and began at Mannheim and ended at a coaching inn named Schwetzinger Relaishaus.
An account of the velocipede and its management was given by Drais and published in 1819. It is provided below (nearly verbatim) and begins with four points related to the machine’s properties: Continue reading →
George Pocock was an English schoolteacher who became interested in kites and began experimenting with them. His interest gradually progressed to him using kites to lift small items and then light loads. By the 1820s, Pocock was experimenting with kites that could lift people. This resulted in Pocock rigging a chair in 1824 that lifted his daughter into the air, and, later that same year, his son also ascended in a chair above a cliff outside of Bristol.
Having concluded that kites were capable of lifting humans, Pocock then turned his attention to using kites to pull loads. He began attaching a small number of kites to carriages and, in 1826, patented the “Charvolant.” The Charvolant consisted of two kites on a single line that was 1,500 to 1,800 feet long and was capable of pulling a carriage with several passengers at a fairly fast speed. Thus, the kite carriage was born. Continue reading →
Traveling in a horse-pulled cab was not a quiet or relaxing affair in the Victorian Era. Such trips involved the tremendous din generated by the clip-clop of horses and the vehicle’s rattling, creaking, squeaking, jingling, and thundering as it progressed through London’s noisy cobblestone streets. To be heard, cab passengers often shouted as loud as possible, which was why it was “observed that most people when making a cab voyage are decidedly prone to be taciturn.” Yet, no matter how much passengers in the interior of a cab repressed conversations or tried to remain uncommunicative, they found at certain points they were forced to carry on a conversation consisting of signalling and shouting to cabbies (drivers) sitting in the box outside.
It was true passengers could give a cabbie orders to take them somewhere well-known and that cabbies could drive them straight to their destination without any conversation. But if passengers were traveling somewhere unfamiliar or needed to visit the suburbs that was a different story. This fact was noted by one passenger who stated:
“It behooves you to have your head and the greater part of your body out of the window, and to howl unintermittintly [sic], ‘To the right!’ ‘To the left!’ ‘No, no, not up there—stop! you can’t get through — you must turn back!'”
And, of course, such an experience was “highly disagreeable” to any passenger because even the loudest passengers could not be heard without “immense exertion” and many went hoarse from trying to be heard. Continue reading →
Coachbuilders or coach makers created “those numerous and elegant vehicles which modern refinement … invented as speedy and luxurious modes of traveling.” In building a vehicle, a coachbuilder usually relied on artisans, “wheel-wrights, smiths, painters, carvers, joiners … [and] harness-makers,” and assembled together the parts the artisans created by making a body and a carriage.
Coachbuilding also ensured the coach was adapted to the places for where it was destined to be used, whether that be town, country, or continent. According to one coachbuilder, coaches had to be built stronger for town driving than for country use, and it was even more important they be built “stronger for the continent than even for the town, as the badness of their roads obliges them to use six horses to what on a well made road two would draw with equal facility.” Although coaches had to be built sturdy, they also had to be built as lightly as possible so as not to create an additional burden on the horses destined to pull them. Continue reading →
Mail coaches regularly carried passengers, as well as mail, and because of this they were ripe for mail coach robberies. It did not matter that by the early 1800s “the coachmen and guards [wore] the king’s livery, scarlet, faced with blue and gold lace; and [were] an intrepid and fearless class.” It also did not matter that at the rear of the coach, the mail box, which was supposedly large enough to “hold a man doubled up,” was tightly secured. The box, approximately “three or four feet wide and deep, and perhaps a couple of feet broad,” was where the mail bags were deposited, after which the lid was securely locked with a key.
One nineteenth century traveler claimed that the signal for the horses to start and for the coach to move was “the thunder of lids locked down upon the mail-bags.” The mail was also guarded, and the guard was armed with a blunderbuss and two pistol. Moreover, guards followed strict rules that were “sternly enforced … [with] no exception … [The guard] … when sitting on his perch at the back of the coach, [was] to keep his feet on the locked lid … [and] no passenger was allowed to sit at the back of the coach with the guard.” Yet, despite all the precautions mail coach robberies often occurred. Continue reading →
Postal delivery service began in England in 1635 and it existed in the same form for 150 years. Mounted carriers rode between “posts” taking letters handed to them by local postmasters until they eventually reached the proper local postmasters who in turn delivered them to the intended recipient in their area. This system was highly inefficient and the post riders were easy targets for robbers, which is why theater owner John Palmer thought he could do better.
Palmer transported actors and materials. He believed his ideas could improve mail delivery countrywide. Fortunately for Palmer, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, William Pitt, decided to let Palmer try, and Palmer was successful: He beat the old delivery time by 22 hours and brought the mail from Bristol to London in 16 hours. A year later, in 1785, the mail coach, sometimes called a post coach, was in business delivering mail from London to Norwich, Liverpool, Leeds, Dover, Portsmouth, Poole, Exeter, Gloucester, Worcester, Holyhead and Carlisle. Continue reading →
In the second half of the eighteenth century, as roads improved, so did the vehicles that traveled them. Among the vehicles on the road was the gig, also called a chaise or a chair. It was a lightweight, two-wheeled cart with road springs pulled by one or sometimes two horses. Passengers rode facing forward and the driver’s seat was constructed so the driver sat higher than the shaft. This gave the driver a good view of the road and made it a favorite among tandem drivers. The gig could be used for many types of driving, including formal or pleasure driving but because it had a high center of gravity, it could be precarious when off-road. Continue reading →