Riding in Style – The Elegant Victorian Era Carriages

Until the beginning of the 20th century, horses or horse-drawn vehicles were the primary mode of transportation in London and other parts of the world. Horses were owned by people; carriages were owned or rented by wealthier households; furthermore, merchandise were conveyed by cart and truck.

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Hackney carriages were supplanted by the quicker hansom taxis in the mid-century.

From the 1830s on, horse-drawn omnibuses and, later, trams were able to quickly move a lot of people around.

A lot of London’s streets were lined with all kinds of horse-drawn wagons and carts that delivered all kinds of goods during the Victorian era. All goods had to be carted to their final destination when they arrived at London’s numerous rail termini or the extensive dock system from further afield. London was a manufacturing hub at the time, necessitating the transportation of finished or partially finished goods.

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Milk, bread, and other foods were delivered to the door in residential areas.

At the end of the 19th century, there were approximately 120,000 haulage workers in London and Middlesex, including omnibus operators. There were about 68,000 carmen and carters among them. Some of them worked for railroad companies or big businesses like Pickfords, which owned more than 4,000 horses at the end of the century. Others were people driving one van or more. The pay was low and the hours were long.

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Prior to the development of the rail network, horse-drawn wagons brought some of London’s food produce daily from the surrounding countryside to Covent Garden Market. Fish was landed at Billingsgate Market by boat prior to the Victorian era. Later, it was able to quickly get to London from as far away as Hull, Grimsby, Fleetwood, and eventually Penzance and Scotland with the help of trains. Even after the development of railways, produce had to be transported by horse-drawn cart from London’s rail termini to wholesale markets.

Londoners would travel to the countryside in wagonettes, which were typically pulled by two or three horses. On either side, ten or more people could sit. For their annual treat, poorer Sunday school students were taken to Epping Forest and other locations. Similarly, employees enjoyed their outings to work. With seats, pleasure vans, which look like delivery carts, could carry a lot of kids.

By UnknownScanned by Leonard Bentley from Iden, East Sussex, UK – Hyde Park, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44969556

Wedding carriages were typically made of grey horses. The funeral cortège carriages that are pulled by black Flemish horses can be quite extravagant. Despite the fact that many working people contributed weekly to an insurance fund or burial club, the carriages varied in price depending on the budget available. A publican or his wife’s funerals were some of the largest.

At the beginning of the 19th century, many members of the middle class owned horses for personal or business travel.

By Unknown author – postcard London LL, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66706263

A horse and carriage were kept by professional households or wealthy individuals. It was assessed that in the mid-century around 25,000 individual ponies were being ridden in London generally speaking, and most likely more in prior many years. During the century, as omnibuses, trams, and trains became more common, the situation began to change gradually. By the end of the 19th century, the only people who rode their own horses on London’s streets were the police and the army. However, there were many different kinds of horse-drawn vehicles.

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Many detached or semi-detached houses in the suburbs had stables. If that wasn’t the case, a neighbor could rent a stable and, if necessary, a coach house. Livery and bait stables were common, where owners could hire horses or pay to have them stabled and fed. Stables were kept at the rear of many inns, especially those associated with hunting and coaching. However, owners had to ensure that their animals received all of the food they had paid for because some stables were less strict. In lieu of being owned by the operator, many of the horses used to pull commercial wagons and vans on London’s streets were hired from stables.

Private carriages were expensive and only available to professionals like doctors or wealthy individuals for visits. At the beginning of the 19th century, a variety of people and purposes utilized a variety of different types and styles of carriages.

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Some of these were: gigs, which are two-wheeled, sprung carriages that could move quickly and could hold one or two people; Tilburys, made by Tilbury of Mount Street, London, are gigs with a hood to protect passengers; stanhopes, which are also made by Tilbury’s and are named after the athlete Henry FitzRoy Stanhope;chaises, which are hooded chariots with two wheels and one horse that are popular with retirees; dogcarts, also called “bounders” or “tigers,” are two-person, high-sitting carriages with two wheels that are popular with athletes.

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Phaetons (four-wheeled vehicles with a small, high body) and wagonettes (four-wheeled vehicles with an open back for luggage or goods);landaus, four-wheeled carriages with a folding top and door for privacy or inclement weather, are larger and more luxurious. They can carry four people and two riders.and Victorias (popular with women, four-wheeled vehicles with folding hoods for two passengers and two riders that Queen Victoria adopted prior to her accession).

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In 1838, a brand-new type of carriage known as the brougham and its variant, the Clarence, were first introduced to the market. The coach builder Robinson & Cook built the first of its kind to Henry Brougham, Lord Chancellor’s specifications. The four-seat Clarence, named after the Duke of Clarence, followed the two-seat Brougham with driver. Their design was lower, more maneuverable, and light enough to be pulled by one horse than that of earlier carriages like the landau.The brougham, single landau, Victoria, and private hansom were the most popular carriages at the century’s end.

The first horseless, electric broughams were introduced in 1897.

The majority of London’s major events, including state and military celebrations, included horses.

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In 1864, the first horse show was held. The Hall Company is credited with inventing a show of this kind under cover, where horses are shown saddled and harnessed in an arena large enough to show their paces and in unparalleled accommodations. Every year, in the week between Epsom and Ascot Races, a horse show is held here, attracting the most fashionable Londoners. The judges are always chosen from gentlemen and nobles;Lords Suffield and Combermere, for instance, the Earls of Chesterfield and Portsmouth.

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Horses, like humans, might have a disease, a broken bone, or some other health issue. The Royal Veterinary College at Camden is a good option for pet owners who cannot afford costly veterinary care. In the middle of the 18th century, such a college had been established in Lyon, France. A group set out to establish a similar institution in London in 1791. Around then Duke Camden was creating on his fields toward the north of London – what became Camden Town – and he gave over a portion of his property to make the school.

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Lucky horses could spend time at Friar’s Place Farm in Acton’s Home of Rest for Horses if they were nearing the end of their lives or needed to rest. The residence was forced to relocate several times as London spread out, but it continues to reside in Buckinghamshire today.

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