Transportation in the late 1800s and early 1900s

by T-Dog

How did people get around in the late 1800s and early 1900s?


At the beginning of the 19th century, England's transport system was in a bit of a state. If you wanted to get around you'd walk, ride (if you had a horse) or drove (if you owned a cart and some animal to pull it).

But as the industrial revolution took hold, people moved about more - going where the work was. And the transport system improved. New roads were built, often by subscription - so then you had toll keepers collecting the fees for travelling along the new roads.

Regular stage coaches began to run between the major cities. It would have been fairly uncomfortable riding in the things, and slow, too, as horses needed to be changed frequently. So posting houses and inns sprang up along the large roads to accommodate travellers and horses.

Those well off often travelled in their own coach or open curricle. A curricle was a much more 'racy' conveyance than a closed coach and - as now - young gentlemen loved to race their curricles along the main roads. Never mind the rest of the traffic.

Canals were built to transport goods between cities and were once as important as motorways are now.

And then, towards the middle of the 19th century, the railways arrived. And soon caught people's imagination. A huge rail network was constructed in the late 1800 and early 1900s - much of which is still around today to be admired.

A very excellent book about life at the beginning of the 19th century is Georgette Heyer's Regency World by Jennifer Kloester. Here you can find out about the clothes people wore, what they ate, how they furnished and decorated their homes, what they did for entertainment and - of course - how they got around.

It's great if you need information for a school project or a history festival, if you want to find out what Jane Austen's or Georgette Heyer's characters really lived like or if you simple want to find out more about a fascinating historical period.

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