For many years the only form of long
distance transport from town to town, for people not owning
their own carriages, was by the stage and mail coaches that
travelled between coaching inns. Each town on a coach route
had at least one coaching inn where horses could be changed
and stabled, and refreshments, and possibly overnight
accommodation was available.
Wolverhampton had several coaching inns,
and was served by many famous coaches, including Red Rover,
Shropshire Hero, Beehive, Royal Dart and Wonder. The London
mail coach ran daily from Shrewsbury to London via
Wolverhampton, Coventry and St. Albans. It came up
Tettenhall Road, into Salop Street, round the corner into
Cock Street and under the archway entrance into the yard of
the New Hotel, kept by John Shaw Walker in the 1850s. Within
sixty seconds the passengers would climb aboard, parcels
packed, horses changed, and the coach would continue on its
It departed from the Bull and Mouth Inn
in London at 6.30 a.m., arrived at Coventry at 4.02 p.m. and
reached Wolverhampton at 7.36 p.m. The fare from
Wolverhampton to London was 34 shillings inside and 17
shillings outside. In the 1790s the London mail coach ran
from the Bull and Mouth Inn to the Talbot in King Street,
Wolverhampton. It left the Talbot at midday and arrived in
London at 7 a.m. next morning. Goods transported on the
coach were guaranteed delivery in London by 9 a.m. The fair
to London was £1.16s.0d. The fair to Birmingham was four
shillings inside, and two shillings outside. Mail coaches
were the fastest way to travel, but priority was given to
the mail, and passenger fares were much higher than on the
The first known reference to stage
coaches in Wolverhampton is a handbill dated 23rd July,
1783. A coach departed from Wolverhampton daily to
Birmingham via Walsall. The fare to Birmingham was four
shillings. By 1787 a coach service was running from
Wolverhampton to London via Birmingham. It operated three
times a week, the fare to London being twenty four
In 1784 the Post Office began running
experimental mail coaches which were much lighter in weight,
and carried fewer outside passengers. The horses were
changed more frequently, journeys were faster, and time
keeping was much improved. By 1808 the London to Holyhead
mail coaches were stopping in Wolverhampton, and by 1818 it
was possible to travel from the town to Bristol, Chester,
Liverpool, and Manchester, as well as to Birmingham, London,
and Holyhead. Services also ran to Bridgnorth.
By 1827 coaches were also leaving daily from
Wolverhampton to Gloucester, Leeds, Newcastle, and Southampton. There were
twenty departures daily to Birmingham.
One of the town’s main coaching inns
was the Star and Garter in Cock Street. In 1846 the service
was as follows:
Holyhead mail – via Shifnal,
Shrewsbury, Oswestry, Corwen, and Bangor. Leaving every
morning at 3 a.m.
The Greyhound – to Shrewsbury via Shifnal, and Wellington. Leaving every day except Sunday at
a quarter to three.
The Day Mail – to Shrewsbury via Shifnal, and Wellington. Leaving every day except Sunday at
half past three.
The Wonder – to Shrewsbury via Shifnal,
and Hay Gate. Leaving every day except Sunday at a quarter
The Everlasting – to Worcester via
Dudley, Stourbridge, Kidderminster, and Stourport. Leaving
every morning except Sunday at 8 o’clock.
The Bang-Up – to Worcester via Dudley,
Stourbridge, Kidderminster, and Stourport. Leaving every
morning except Sunday at 4 o’clock.
The Hero – to Bridgnorth. Leaving every
evening except Sunday at a quarter to six.
The Mail Gig – to Bridgnorth (parcels
only). Leaving every morning at 4 a.m.
The Daily Mail – to Birmingham. Leaving
every morning except Sunday at 10 a.m.
The Wonder – to Birmingham. Leaving
every afternoon except Sunday at a quarter past one.
The Greyhound – to Birmingham. Leaving
every afternoon except Sunday at half past five.
The Royal Mail – to Birmingham. Leaving
every evening at a quarter past nine.
Coaches to Dudley – leaving every day
except Sunday at 8 a.m. and 4 p.m. Fares two shillings
inside, one shilling outside.
Omnibuses ran to the railway station to
meet all trains, and a Royal Mail omnibus met all mail
|The General Coach Office at the Fleece
Inn in Dudley Street had the following timetable in 1830:
Phoenix and Rocket – to London. Leaves
every evening at half past five, calls at the Hen and
Chickens Hotel, Birmingham, through Oxford,
Henley-on-Thames, and arrives at the Blur Boar, Holborn
early next morning.
Triumph – to London. Leaves every
evening at three o’clock, calls at the Hen and Chickens
Hotel, Birmingham, through Oxford, Henley-on-Thames, and
arrives at the Spread Eagle, Gracechurch Street early the
Triumph – to Liverpool. Leaves every
night at half past eleven, via Chester, and arrives at the
Golden Lion, Dale Street at half past ten the next morning.
Salopian – to Shrewsbury via Shifnal,
Ironbridge, and Coalbrookdale. Arrives at the Talbot Hotel,
at seven o’clock.
Triumph – to Holyhead via Shrewsbury
and Bangor, every night at half past seven. Meets coaches at
the Talbot Hotel, Shrewsbury for Hereford, Aberystwyth, Welshpool, Newtown, and all parts of North Wales.
Hark Forward! – to the potteries via
Stafford, Stone, Lane End, Stoke, Shelton, Hanley, to the
Legs of Man at Burslem. Leaves every evening at a quarter to
six, and arrives at Burslem by half past ten that night.
Active – to Birmingham. Leaves every
morning at a quarter to nine.
Salopian – to Birmingham. Leaves every
morning at 11 o’clock, to the King’s Head in Worcester
Hark Forward! – to Birmingham. Leaves
every morning at 12 o’clock, to the King’s Head in Worcester
Street. In time for the Leamington, Warwick, Coventry, and
Favourite – to Birmingham. Leaves every
afternoon at a quarter to three.
Phoenix – to Birmingham. Leaves every
evening at half past five, to the Hen and Chickens Hotel, in
time for the Bristol Mail.
Tally Ho! – to Birmingham. Leaves every
evening at a quarter to eight.
Triumph – to Birmingham. Leaves every
morning at 3 o’clock, to the Hen and Chickens Hotel, in time
for the Stamford and Leamington mails.
A coach leaves for Bridgnorth every
morning at half past ten, and returns in time for the
Birmingham and London coaches.
The town’s most famous coaching inn was
the George Hotel on The Bridge. It had 106 coach and posting
horses in its stables. Many coaches called there, including
The Red Rover and the Railway from
London to Manchester; The Albion from London to Chester; The
Crown Prince, the Aurora and the Magnet, from London to
Liverpool; The Times and the Mail from Birmingham to
Sheffield; The Standard Pearl, and the Rapid, to Derby; The
York House from Bristol to Liverpool; The Mail from
Manchester to Bath; and the Lazy Liverpool; besides coaches
to Birmingham, Dudley, Wolverhampton, and Lichfield.
The Red Rover was especially
well-appointed and very fast; the guards wore red hats and
it is said that their situations were worth £15 a week. On
the first of the month when it carried the magazines, it had
six horses. It required ten horses to work between
Walsall and Cannock. The guard and coachman were fined 2s.
6d. a minute if behind time.
The Albion ran by the four Crosses on
Watling Street and had four splendid bays and four chestnuts
to work the eight miles. The Standard Pearl and the Rapid
were opposition coaches driven by Capt. Baring and Capt.
Douglas, and travelled at a reckless pace, on one occasion
coming from Birmingham to Walsall in 28 minutes. The
Standard changed at the George, the Rapid at the Bradford
Arms, but came on to The Bridge to start fair on the race to
The "Lazy Liverpool" was so called
because it was a slow, heavy coach, carrying the luggage of
the fast coaches and passengers at cheap fares; it was
consequently crowded with sailors and Irish pig-dealers.
Some humorous person christened it the "Lousy Liverpool," and it was
known by that name for many years.
The Amity ran from Wolverhampton to
Sheffield, and was due in Walsall at 5 a.m. and 5 p.m.
Aris’s Birmingham Gazette of 30th
November, 1778 includes an advert for the Shrewsbury,
Wolverhampton, Walsall, and Birmingham Fly. The fare from
Walsall to Birmingham was £1.7s.0d inside, or 13s.6d. (half
fare) outside. In 1780 a coach ran from Holyhead to London
via Walsall and Birmingham. The fare from Walsall to London
The George Hotel. From an old postcard.
The Star & Garter Hotel, Victoria
Street, Wolverhampton. Courtesy of Eardley Lewis.
|Stagecoaches and mail coaches began to disappear as the
railways started to develop. Travel by
train was faster, more comfortable, more convenient, and
After the formation of the London & North Western
Railway on 16th July, 1846, stage and mail coach services
rapidly went into decline.
There were frequent and reliable
train services to much of the country, which people
preferred. All long distance coaches had gone from
Wolverhampton by 1851, the only coaches still running went
to Birmingham, Bridgnorth, Dudley, and Worcester.
only a single stage coach travelled from the Star & Garter.
It ran daily to Bridgnorth, leaving the hotel at 6 p.m. This
soon came to an end due to competition from a horse-drawn
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