Roger Bradbury AntiquesRoger Bradbury Antiques
Victorian Mail Coach Carriage Warmer

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Directory: Antiques: Decorative Art: Metals: Copper: Pre 1900: Item # 1142416

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Roger Bradbury Antiques
Skeyton Lodge, Long Road
Skeyton, Norfolk
01692 538 293

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Victorian Mail Coach Carriage Warmer
150.00 Please quote on delivery

This quite rare Copper and Brass warmer is Copper with Brass stopper and brackets two sturdy carrying handles and eyes on the brackets so that it could be suspended from the wall and draped with a blanket to keep ones head warm there is an oval plate The mail coaches were originally designed for a driver, seated outside, and up to four passengers inside. The guard (the only Post Office employee on the coach) travelled on the outside at the rear next to the mail box. Later a further passenger was allowed outside, sitting at the front next to the driver, and eventually a second row of seating was added behind him to allow two further passengers to sit outside. Travel could be uncomfortable as the coaches travelled on poor roads and passengers were obliged to dismount from the carriage when going up steep hills to spare the horses (as Charles Dickens describes at the beginning of A Tale Of Two Cities). The coaches averaged 7 to 8 mph (1113 km/h) in summer and about 5 mph (8 km/h) in winter but by the time of Queen Victoria ~the roads had improved enough to allow speeds of up to 10 mph (16 km/h). Fresh horses were supplied every 10 to 15 miles (1624 km). Stops to collect mail were short and sometime there would be no stops at all with the guard throwing the mail off the coach and snatching the new deliveries from the postmaster. The cost of travelling by mail coach was about 1 a mile more expensive than by private stage coach, but the coach was faster and, in general, less crowded and cleaner. Crowding was a common problem with private stage coaches, which led to them overturning; the limits on numbers of passengers and luggage prevented this occurring on the mail coaches. Travel on the mail coach was nearly always at night; as the roads were less busy the coach could make better speed. The guard was heavily armed with a blunderbuss and two pistols and dressed in the Post Office livery of scarlet and gold. The mail coaches were thus well defended against highwaymen, and accounts of robberies often confuse them with private stage coaches, though robberies did occur. To prevent corruption and ensure good performance, the guards were paid handsomely and supplied with a generous pension. The mail was their sole charge, meaning that they had to deliver it on foot if a problem arose with the coach and, unlike the driver, they remained with the coach for the whole journey; occasionally guards froze to death from hypothermia in their exposed position outside the coach during the harsh winters (see River Thames frost fairs). The guard was supplied with a timepiece and a posthorn, the former to ensure the schedule was met, the latter to alert the post house to the imminent arrival of the coach and warn tollgate keepers to open the gate (a fine was payable if the coach was forced to stop). Since the coaches had right of way on the roads the horn was also used to advise other road users of their approach. A most interesting and quite rare piece of transport history.

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