Explore the Museum

1700 - Georgian

Journey times on major coaching routes to and from London:
London - Bristol 16 hr 45 min
London - Liverpool 21 hr 20
London - Exeter 30 hr 40
London - Norwich 13 hr 35
London - Davenport 27 hr 5
London - Glasgow 42 hrs

Mail coaches departed from their London Inns at 7:30pm, and from the main post office at 8 pm.

A letter from Bath to London in 1684 - delivery took 3 days. Bath was served by a branch in Marshfield along the well kept road between Bristol and London.

Ralph Allen

The problem was confronted by Ralph Allen, pictured left, postmaster of Bath. Between 1719 and 1763 Allen signed a series of contracts with the post office to develop and expand Britain's postal network – a vast undertaking. Bath was the centre of his operations.

The industrial heartlands of the North and the Midlands were given special attention. Here the limitations of the posts were hampering the businessmen and inventors who were bringing Britain into the industrial age. Ralph Allen's expanded network made another problem more acute: the quality of transport. Ever since the seventeenth century, the post boys who carried the mail were often slow, dishonest, unreliable and vulnerable to robbery. Cautions were issued to post boys in the form of posters put up along postal routes.

John Palmer

In 1784 the Post Office replaced them with fast, efficient, well guarded mail coaches. John Palmer, pictured left, a Bath businessman and theatrical manager, initiated the change by organising the first experimental run from Bath.

Its success silenced those in higher positions within the Post Office who had opposed Palmer's proposal.

Mail Snatch

A high speed mail snatch. As the Bath -London coach speeds through the town, the guard throws the incoming mail to the sleepy postman, who exchanges it for the outgoing mail.

Mail Coach

A model of the original Bath Mail coach on display at the museum. Britain was the first country to introduce mail-coaches. Europe and the New World later followed the example. The mail coach horn's official purpose was to warn other travellers on the road of the coach's approach. The horn was often used to entertain mail coach passengers on the long journeys.