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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.

Local Shops

Some idea of the effect of our modern, faster, cheaper transport on the economy of the countryside can be seen in Shap, Orton and Tebay in Westmorland. In the 1851 census, grocers, blacksmiths, shoemakers and butchers all ran shops. Mills, inns and schools were recorded in all the small villages and hamlets around the area. All the villages had a pub - and Shap being on a main coaching route had several inns and hotels including The Queen's Head, the Bull, the King's Arms (posting house), the Crown and the Greyhound.

Compare the services and shops with those available in the same villages in 2021. There are no shops in Crosby Ravensworth, and one pub. There is one Co-operative store, a charity shop and a couple of cafes in Shap and only three pubs. There is one shop with Post Office, and one pub in Orton. Tebay has no shops but does have the Truck Stop motorway services which has a general grocery store (the northbound and southbound Westmorland Services provide fuel and food at Motorway prices). Elsewhere even the rural petrol-station has 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.