Travel before the railway

Advertisement for coach from Maidstone to London, from Maidstone Journal, 11 October 1842.  From the collection of Maidstone Library

In order to examine the impact of the railway on travel, we needed to find out what travel was like in the area before 1841.

Our researchers found a letter from 1823, in which a young man writes to his cousin to describe his journey from his cousin’s home in Maidstone to London via Margate.  The journey from Margate took him 9 hours :

Letter, 8 September 1832, page 1

Letter, 8 September 1832, page 2

A month later, after another trip, he writes again with another account of his journey.  This time he took 9 hours to travel from Maidstone to Margate, then another 12 hours from Margate to London by steam ship:

Letter, 6 October 1823, page 1

Letter, 6 October 1823, page 2

Although his route was not the most direct from Maidstone to London, it gives a vivid impression of what a typical journey might have been like at this time: waiting in taverns for stagecoaches, suffering the wind and the rain on the top of the stagecoach, and bad weather causing unpleasant illness amongst the passengers on the steam ship!

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