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Widely used before the introduction of railway transport, it made regular trips between stages or stations, which were places where the coach's horses would be replaced by fresh horses.
The postal delivery service in Britain had existed in the same form for about 150 years—from its introduction in 1635, mounted carriers had ridden between "posts" where the postmaster would remove the letters for the local area before handing the remaining letters and any additions to the next rider.The stagecoach was a four-wheeled vehicle pulled by horses or mules.The primary requirement was that it was used as a public conveyance, running on an established route and schedule.The riders were frequent targets for robbers, and the system was inefficient.Palmer made much use of the "flying" stagecoach services between cities in the course of his business, and noted that it seemed far more efficient than the system of mail delivery then in operation.A string of coaching inns operated as stopping points for travellers on the route between London and Liverpool by the mid 17th century.
The coach would depart every Monday and Thursday and took roughly ten days to make the journey during the summer months.
Originating in England, familiar images of the stagecoach are that of a Royal Mail coach passing through a turnpike gate, a Dickensian passenger coach covered in snow pulling up at a coaching inn, and a highwayman demanding a coach to "stand and deliver".
The yard of ale drinking glass is associated by legend with stagecoach drivers, though it was mainly used for drinking feats and special toasts.
One pamphleteer denounced the stagecoach as a "great evil [...] mischievous to trade and destructive to the public health.""Besides the excellent arrangement of conveying men and letters on horseback, there is of late such an admirable commodiousness, both for men and women, to travel from London to the principal towns in the country, that the like hath not been known in the world, and that is by stage-coaches, wherein any one may be transported to any place, sheltered from foul weather and foul ways; free from endamaging of one's health and one's body by the hard jogging or over-violent motion; and this not only at a low price (about a shilling for every five miles), but with such velocity and speed in one hour, as that the posts in some foreign countries make in a day." The speed of travel remained constant until the mid-18th century.
Reforms of the turnpike trusts, new methods of road building and the improved construction of coaches led to a sustained rise in the comfort and speed of the average journey - from an average journey length of 2 days for the Cambridge-London route in 1750 to a length of under 7 hours in 1820.
The stagecoach was also called a stage or stage carriage.