All items provided by operating company. Most vehicles licensed to carry four passengers ’inside’ and eleven ’outside’.
“The Courier” to Leeds operator J Francis & Co.
Departed ’Belle Sauvage’ Inn, Ludgate Hill 5 p.m. northward through Stoke Goldington then Northampton, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham, Mansfield, Chesterfield, Barnsley, Wakefield and Leeds. 177 miles, journey time 24 hours.
The southbound service left Leeds 6 p.m.
“The Union” to Leicester operator E Sherman & Co.
Departed ’Bull & Mouth’ Inn, St Martin-le-Grand 6.30 a.m. and northwards through Stoke Goldington, Northampton, Market Harborough to Leicester. 98 miles 12 hours journey time.
“Umpire” to Liverpool operator B W Horne & Co.
Departed “Golden Cross” Inn, Charing Cross at 2 p.m. through Stoke Goldington at about 8 p.m. and continuing through Northampton, Welford, Lutterworth, Hinckley, Tamworth, Lichfield, Newcastle-under-Lyne, Warrington and Liverpool. 211 miles with a journey time of 24 hours.
The southward journey departed Liverpool 12 noon.
Interestingly whilst the Mail coach took the more unusual route through Chester and the Wirral, this stagecoach followed the traditional route, crossing the River Mersey at Runcorn then heading northward to Warrington before turning west to Liverpool.
“The Telegraph” to Manchester operator E. Sherman & Co.
Departed ‘Bull & Mouth’ St Mary le Grand at 5.30 a.m. passing through Stoke Goldington at about 11.30 a.m. then Northampton, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough, Derby, Ashbourne , Leek, Macclesfield, Stockport and Manchester. 191 miles with a journey time of 18.5 hours - an average speed of nearly 10.5 m.p.h. and somewhat faster than the Liverpool 9 m.p.h.
The southward journey departed Manchester 5 a.m.
“The Northampton” operator E. Sherman & Co.
Departed ‘Angel’, Bridge Street, Northampton 9.30 a.m. passing through Stoke Goldington about 11 a.m. and arriving at ‘The Bull & Mouth’
St Mary-le-Grand 4.30 p.m. - a journey time of 7 hours for the 66 miles.
The northward journey left the Bull & Mouth at 12 noon, passing through Stoke Goldington about 5.30 p.m. and arriving at the Angel at 7 p.m.
“The Times” to Nottingham operator W Chaplin & Co.
Departed ‘Swan with two Necks’ Lad Lane at 6.45 a.m. passing Stoke Goldington about 12.45 p.m. and onward through Northampton, Market Harborough, Leicester, Loughborough and Nottingham. 124 miles with a journey time of 14.75 hours.
“The Commercial” All as last but departed London at 4.45 p.m. and known as “the night coach”.
The inhabitants of Stoke Goldington obtained gainful employment from the infrastructure need to support the coach services Ostlers, inn staff, road maintenance, forage suppliers etc.
Incidentally the fares charged were 2.5 pennies (1p) per mile ’outside’ and 4.5 pennies (2p) ’inside’, but with weekly earnings of some 12 shillings (60p) the good folk of Stoke Goldington could not afford to travel far in spite of the numerous destinations on offer.
But this was all to change for a competitor no horse drawn road transport could resist was imminent - the Steam Railway!
The London and Birmingham railway was operating completely by the late 1830’s although for a time in 1838 because of continuing work at Kilsley tunnel and Roade Cutting, services terminated at Denbigh Hall on the Watling Street just north of Bletchley. A connecting coach shuttle service operated to Rugby where passengers re-boarded the train to Birmingham.
For a time local coaches acted as feeders to the railway but with the Victorian boom most towns soon had railway connections.
Stoke Goldington reverted back to its rural tranquillity - the Author’s great grandmother recalled grass and weeds growing in the highway in the 1890’s.
However history repeated itself with the road transport renaissance of the 20th century. By the 1920’s long distance motor coaches served the village with destinations virtually identical with those of the horse drawn age.
The village became the base of a well known bus and coach operator Wesley’s - whose apt slogan “Travel the Wesley Way” was seen far and wide in the United Kingdom and the continent up until the 1980’s.
Currently under development is a History of Wesley’s Coaches site.