Changes brought by Transport

Early "fast" transport was not cheap: this advertisement from the "Westmorland Gazette" shows that it was comparatively costly to do a fifty mile run in one day. The "inside" fare was about £44.75 at 2004 rates. Craftsman wages were around 4s per day at that time, so that seat would cost over four days' earnings.

Passengers needed to make an early start if they were travelling from Penrith. The ostlers began even earlier.


is now running daily between WHITEHAVEN and PENRITH, passing through Whitehaven, Cockermouth, and Keswick. This Mail leaves the Crown Inn, Penrith, every morning at three o’clock, and the Black Lion, Whitehaven, every afternoon at three o’clock.

Inside, 17s
Outside, 13s

Whitehaven, July 17th, 1838.

"Inside" was the fare for being shut into the cramped, creaking and swaying space of the body of the coach; "outside", for riding on the roof seats, open to all weathers and shouting conversation over the grinding of the iron-tyred wheels on stony roads. Gales, rain or snow did not stop the mail coaches, and they were compelled to run to time, so you could miss your seat if you were late to the pickup point.

The principle of "keeping up to time" is now embodied in cross country carriage driving events.

Some idea of the effect of our modern, faster, cheaper transport on the economy of the countryside can be seen in this animation centred on Orton and Tebay in Westmorland. In the 1851 census, it can been seen where grocers, blacksmiths, shoemakers and butchers had their shops. Mills, inns and schools were recorded in all the small villages and hamlets around the area.

Click on the coloured buttons at the base of the map to see where the services were located. (Data is accurate for Orton, Tebay and the hamlets; for Shap, it is estimated and will be updated when further data has been gathered. No data is given here for Crosby Ravensworth, but do not assume that there was nothing there!)

Compare the services and shops with those available in the same villages in 2003. Even the rural garage-and-petrol-station has now all but vanished.

Image produced from the Ordnance Survey Get-a-map service.
Image reproduced with kind permission of Ordnance Survey and Ordnance Survey of Northern Ireland.