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. They were always driven by a coachman or postillion (never the owner), and they were similar to chariots, except they had room for four passengers seated vis-à-vis (two benches that faced each other).

The name derived from ancient chariots.

State Coach

Also known as a "Dress Carriage" or "State Carriage"

A vehicle not meant for speed but for show. They were only owned by the titled minority and used for formal occasions. They were the equivalent of the chauffeur-driven limousine.

The coachman would have driven this coach in full formal livery with powdered wig, tricorn hat, braided livery coat, white plush breeches, white silk stockings, and silver-buckled shoes. The footmen would stand on a “footman’s cushion,” which was a padded platform behind the body. They steadied themselves by using the “footman’s holders.” The footmen would also carry “wands” (silver-topped staves) that they’d use to keep the crowds away from the carriage.

  • Seats: 4 passengers + coachman & groom (an additional 2 footmen would stand on the back for formal occasions)

  • Horses: 2 or 4

 

Town Coach

These were generally owned by the wealthier classes and were an everyday version of a state coach. They were less dressy and often had only a simple crest on the door panels.

  • Seats: 4 passengers + coachman & groom

  • Horses: 2

 

StageCoach

A coach that was specially modified to carry additional passengers on the top and was used as the principal form of public transportation from the 17th century until railroad travel was introduced around the 1830s. The last stagecoaches ran in 1890.

 

The name stagecoach comes from the fact that the journey was made in “stages.” They would stop at coaching inns at various intervals along the route to change horses; the length between stages varied between 8-12 miles depending on the terrain. They did stop for meals and rest as well, but most were just long enough to change out the horses; as the new ones were already harnassed and ready to be swapped in, a change-over could be done in 2-3 minutes.

The main towns served by an individual coach were written on the side panels of the carriage or on paper time tables, and each stagecoach had two employees: the coachman and guard. Besides protecting the coach from highwaymen and footpads, the guard was in charge of getting luggage properly loaded and looking after passengers while they were traveling since the coachman often did not leave his seat during stops.

  • Seats: 4 passengers (inside) + 12 passengers (outside) + coachman & guard

  • Horses: 4

 

Park Drag

Also known as a Private Coach or Private Drag

Basically, this is a stagecoach that was made for individual owners rather than as public transportation. It was also lighter and more elegant than stagecoaches, designed solely for the gentleman’s driving pleasure. This carriage was meant for entertaining guests at races or other sporting events as the outside seats could also form a private grandstand. The roof seats have seatbacks (called “lazy backs”) that were designed to fold and flattened when the seats were not in use. It was often used in parks in London as it could hold tons of guests and still had room to store cold food and drink in the zinc-lined boxes in the hind boot.

While a few were made by special order in the early 19th century, they weren't produced widely until the 1860s. They became quite popular and remained so for the latter half of the century.

 

The name “drag” refers to the slang term that was used for any smart or impressive carriage, while “park” came from Hyde Park (where it was very popular to use it).

  • Seats: 4 passengers (inside) + 12 passengers (outside) + coachman & groom

  • Horses: 4