Carriage Types

Carriages came in various styles and fashions throughout the 1700s and 1800s. Before the 19th century, carriages were big and bulky and focused on long-distance travel. However, the Prince Regent and his cohorts loved driving, making it a fashionable thing, which pushed designers to create carriages that could be driven by the average man or woman; carriages became smaller, lighter, and more economical, which made it a lot easier for those other than the gentry or nobility to own them. That, of course, changed the fashion once more and having a coachman-driven carriage became a massive status symbol and was something the middle class aspired to.

 

In 1814, there were roughly 69,000 registered carriages in Britain and by 1898, there were over 500,000.

It was common for those who had carriages to keep two types. Through the first half of the 19th century, they kept a long-distance carriage and a carriage for driving around town (of course, that was contingent on whether or not the family traveled much). Then as travel by train became more popular, they got rid of their long-distance vehicles and swapped them for something like a wagonette, which had multiple uses and could haul loads for work around the house or estate, luggage, large families, etc.

 

Here, I outline the various types of carriages available during the 1800s, along with a few photos and descriptions. Unless otherwise specified, all these carriages were available and used by the mid to late 1700s, and thus would have been part of Regency and Victorian life. This is by no means an exhaustive list of all carriages, but it does present the basic models and a handful of versions within those models.

On this page, I've broken down the main types with a basic bit of information of how it differentiates from others. If you click on the "More Information" button, that will take you into a detailed breakdown of that model, including variations that were popular.

Coach

While we in modern times use this synonymously with “carriage”, a coach is a specific type of vehicle. This is the stereotypical carriage with four wheels and a full-enclosed body and seats four passengers vis-à-vis (or facing each other).

 

Chariot

Almost identical to coaches, except it had room for only two front-facing passengers.

 

Brougham

This is a style of carriage that was very similar to a coach or chariot, but it was an updated version of those vehicles. It was introduced in the 1830s as an option for a light carriage that could be used with a single or pair of horse and was fully enclosed to give the passengers more privacy (unlike gigs, curricles, cabriolets, etc). It could seat two or four passengers.

 

Landau

A very popular carriage that seated four passengers vis-à-vis (or facing each other). It varied from coaches and barouches in that it had a foldable hood that covered all the passengers. When up, the hood gave complete coverage for the passengers from the elements.

 

Barouche

A four-wheeled carriage that could seat four passengers vis-à-vis (or facing each other). Often, the rear-facing seats could be folded up or down, as needed, and were generally only used for short journeys. The folding hood only covered the front-facing passengers.

 

 

Victoria

This style of carriage was first introduced sometime in the 1840s and was made popular by Queen Victoria. It was similar to a barouche with a foldable rear-facing seat that provided space for another passenger. It was different from a barouche in that it had a seat up front for a coachman and groom and had "wings", which were Victorian mudflaps used to protect ladies' skirts from the wheels and mud. 

 

Wagonette

A four-wheeled carriage that was introduced in the mid-1800s. While there are a lot of varieties with varying details, the main difference between wagonettes and other four-passenger coaches is that the seats were placed vis-à-vis (or facing each other) parallel to the road so that the passengers sat with their backs to the roadside. It could double as a wagon when necessary, so it was popular in the country.

 

Dogcart

This carriage could have either two or four wheels and seated two to four passengers, depending on the style. The main difference between this and other carriages was it had storage space for dogs (thus the name) that could also be used for general goods as well, making it a very popular carriage for country life.

 

 

Phaeton

A four-wheeled carriage that seated two front-facing passengers with an additional front-facing seat on the back for servants or grooms.

 

 

Chaise

A small, one-person carriage that had either two or four wheels. Generally, it was a luxury vehicle that was fairly decorative and not for long-distance travel. But there is a more complicated answer to what a chaise is, so click on the button below to read more.

 

Gig

A small, two-passenger carriage that required only one horse or a pair of horses harnessed in tandem (or one in front of the other). These were fast, light and versatile vehicles, and some had a small seat on the back for grooms, but most only fit two passengers.

 

Cabriolet

A small, two-passenger vehicle that evolved from the gig. Where the gig had a more square-ish body, the cabriolet was more curved. They were generally only driven with a single horse and most public hire carriages in the early part of the 1800s were cabriolets, which is where the term "cab". This was the most popular vehicle for single gentlemen until about the 1840s.

 

Curricle

A small, two-passenger carriage that was similar to a cabriolet in design and use, though it was driven by a horse pair (harnassed side-by-side), rather than a single horse.

 

Hansom Cab

First introduced in 1834, these were intended to replace the hackney cabs (the public hire carriages). The body is fashioned after a chariot but with two wheels and the coachman sat on a seat on the back.

 

Miscellaneous

During my research, I found a few random types of carriages that were used in the 1800s that don't fall into any neat category, generally because they were for a very specific purpose.