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According to John Stow, ‘In the yeare 1564 Guilliam Boonen, a Dutchman, became the Queene's Coachman, and was the first that brought the use of coaches into England … within twenty years began a great trade of coach making.’ At first the use of coaches was confined to the London area, but by the end of the century noblemen were using them in other parts of the country. Some regarded this method of travelling as unmanly and insisted on riding on horseback, but by the 1630s public stagecoaches provided links with London within a 30 mile radius of the capital. By 1658, if not before, places as far north as Doncaster and Wakefield could be reached by stagecoaches from the capital in four days. A more comfortable ride was made possible by the use of steel springs in coaches from 1754. Many more stagecoach routes were opened once the principal highways were turnpiked in the 18th century. Provincial directories from the late 18th and early 19th centuries are a major source of information about routes and coach proprietors. Newspapers often contain advertisements of the services that were available, and private letters and journals give other details. See also carrier.

Subjects: History.

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