The Twickenham Museum
Exhibitions : Road Rail and River

Horses and Horse-drawn Vehicles
Horses carried travellers, pulled coaches for the gentry and carts for the rest

This aquatint by J W Edy of 1796 shows an 18c horse-drawn vehicle, complete with a trunk on the back, and with two passengers, travelling on Thames Street, Hampton (now part of the A308)

Horses carried travellers, pulled coaches for the gentry and carts for the rest. We know that Henry VIII demolished Wolsey’s stables and rebuilt the ‘Kyngs new stabyll’ with a great stone gateway in 1537. In 1570 Elizabeth I built two new barns and a coach house with garrets on to the western end of her father’s stables. The buildings survive, opposite Hampton Court Green. The first royal coach was delivered to Elizabeth in 1564.

A splendid carriage shown outside the mews at Twickenham Park with a young boy seated in the driving position. The postcard on which this picture appeared was franked in 1905 but the carriage probably dates to some considerable time before then

Over the years wheeled traffic damaged roads, which could become impassable in winter. Matters only improved with the introduction of turnpikes. Turnpike Trusts were set up by individual Acts of Parliament, with powers to collect road tolls for maintaining the principal roads in Britain from the 17th century but especially during the 18th and 19th centuries. In 1767 the Isleworth, Twickenham and Teddington Turnpike road was opened. These Turnpike roads and the Inns along them formed part of a highly organised long-distance system of transport. Arrangements allowed for the replacement and stabling of horses, so that coaches could run to a fixed time-table. Two establishments were developed in Twickenham in the 18th century to cater for the coach trade through King Street. These were the George (1709) and King’s Head (1723) with extensive yards for stabling covering nearly one third of an acre each. In 1773 a similar turnpike was set up between Hampton and Staines.

A horse-drawn milk cart belonging to W. Poupart, Dairy Farmers, Twickenham and Teddington, together with driver at the reigns and a milk churn for carrying the milk. Note also the carriage lamps on either side of the vehicle

Stage coaches calling at Twickenham increased from 7 in 1811 to 26 in 1837 whilst over the same period the number of coaches going to Hampton rose from 9 to 42. About 1850 The Richmond Conveyance Company began an increased series of horse-drawn bus services.

Horse-drawn taxis lined up outside the old Twickenham Station on the opposite side of the bridge to the present station

Horses were also used to pull fire-engines. The first reference to the use of horses, in Twickenham, is in 1845 when increased speed was gained by hiring horses from Mr Willis for 12/6. Local deliveries were also made by horse and cart. Horse and van and were replaced, in the main, by motorised delivery vehicles from around the 1920s.

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