I’ve been much involved of late in preparing a short talk, along with my chum Reg Davis, about our work on renovating milestones in the borough.
It’s quite taken over my life, causing me to make errors in blog posts. Normally, it’s not a problem for me to prepare a talk. This talk is, however, to my peer group of wise and learned old gents of the Camberley and District Probus Club, and that’s pressure.
My part of our joint talk is more about the history of milestones and such. To lighten my talk I found this story of stagecoach travel along the A30 from Bagshot to Hartford Bridge. Here’s a view of the A30 in early 1900’s near where Blackbushe Airfield is now, and a print of two stagecoaches passing one another on this stretch of road. [Click on images to expand.] The print of the stagecoaches is important to note in the story.
Taken from ‘The Exeter Road’ by Charles Harper, 1899, and in The Camberley News 23rd November, 1990
An old passenger travelling from London to Exeter, having had an uncomfortable coach ride, quits the coach at Bagshot, congratulating himself on being safe and sound.
Approaching a waiter he says, “Pray sir, have you any slow coach down this way today.” A slow coach covers 8 miles in an hour. The waiter replied, “Why, yes sir, we have The Regulator down in an hour.”
He has breakfast, and at the appointed time the coach arrives. The waiter announces that The Regulator is full inside and in front. “But, sir”, he says, “You’ll have the hind dickey all to yourself, and your luggage in the hind boot.”
The old gentleman passenger again congratulates himself, prematurely, for they about to enter Hartford Bridge Flats, having the reputation of the best the best five miles for a coach in all of England. The Coachman ‘springs’ his horses, and they break into a gallop which does those five miles in 23 minutes.
The coach being heavily laden forward, rolled in a manner which it is quite impossible to find a simile, and the passenger utterly gives himself up for gone.
In the midst of its best gallops, halfway across the Flats, The Regulator meets the coachman of The Comet coming the other way, whose coachman has a full view of passenger in the hind dickey and describes his situation thus, “He was seated with his back to the horses, his arms extended to each extremity of the guard rails, his teeth set as grim as death – his eyes cast down toward the ground, thinking the less he saw of his danger the better.”
In this state the old gentleman arrived at Hartford Bridge, where he exclaimed he’ll walk to Devonshire.