Stagecoach

Stagecoach in Switzerland

A stagecoach is a type of four-wheeled closed coach used to carry passengers and goods inside. It is strongly sprung and generally drawn by four horses, usually four-in-hand. Widely used before the introduction of railway transport, it made regular trips between stages or stations, which were places where the coach's horses would be replaced by fresh horses. The business of running stagecoaches or the act of journeying in them was known as staging. [1]

Originating in England, familiar images of the stagecoach are that of a Royal Mail coach passing through a turnpike gate, a Dickensian passenger coach covered in snow pulling up at a coaching inn, and a highwayman demanding a coach to "stand and deliver". The yard of ale drinking glass is associated by legend with stagecoach drivers, though it was mainly used for drinking feats and special toasts. [2] [3]

Description

Coach Stop on the Place de Passy, and change of horses, by Edmond Georges Grandjean

The stagecoach was a four-wheeled vehicle pulled by horses or mules. The primary requirement was that it was used as a public conveyance, running on an established route and schedule. Vehicles that were used included buckboards and dead axle wagons, surplus Army ambulances and celerity (or mud) coaches. On the outside were two back seats facing one another, which the British called 'baskets'. In addition to the 'stage driver' who guided the vehicle, a ' shotgun messenger', armed with a coach gun, often rode as a guard beside him.

The stagecoach traveled at an average speed of about five miles per hour, with the total daily mileage covered being around 60 or 70 miles. [4]

The term 'stage' originally referred to the distance between stations on a route, the coach traveling the entire route in 'stages', but through metonymy it came to apply to the coach. A fresh set of horses would be staged at the next station, so the coach could continue after a quick stop to re-hitch the new team of horses. Under this staging system, the resting, watering and feeding of the spent horses would not delay the coach. This system based on making fresh horses regularly available along a route had been in use by a number of different civilisations, going back at least as far as the ancient Romans.

The stagecoach was also called a stage or stage carriage. Varieties included:

  • mail coach or post coach: used for carrying mail, as well as passengers.
  • mud coach: lighter and smaller, with flat sides and simpler joinery.
  • road coach: revived in Great Britain and Ireland during the second half of the 19th century.
Other Languages
brezhoneg: Rederig
català: Diligència
čeština: Dostavník
Cymraeg: Coets fawr
dansk: Diligence
Deutsch: Postkutsche
Esperanto: Diliĝenco
فارسی: دلیجان
français: Diligence
Frysk: Postkoets
한국어: 역마차
עברית: דיליז'נס
kaszëbsczi: Diliżans
Nederlands: Postkoets
日本語: 駅馬車
norsk: Diligense
polski: Dyliżans
русский: Дилижанс
Simple English: Stagecoach
slovenščina: Diližansa
српски / srpski: Дилижанса
svenska: Diligens
Türkçe: Posta arabası
українська: Диліжанс
中文: 驿站马车