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A timeline of carriages at the National Trust Carriage Museum

The State Chariot of the Earl of Crave painted yellow with the Earl of Craven crest on the door, part of the National Trust Carriage Museum collection at Arlington Court, Devon.
The State Chariot of the Earl of Craven | © National Trust Images/Nadia Mackenzie

The collection of carriages at Arlington Court spans more than 400 years and boasts vehicles for all occasions. We can't be certain of the exact dates for many, but we know from old magazines and adverts when new designs appeared. From this, we can understand the evolution of coach travel from the 17th century to their use in the Second World War.

17th century

1673 – Long journeys

A journey by carriage between Exeter and London takes eight days in summer or 10 in winter.

18th century

1750 – Landau

The Landau is introduced into England. Landaus became very popular with the professional and middle classes as a versatile carriage for all types of driving conditions.

1760 – Barouche

The Barouche is introduced into England. The travelling style of the Barouche was designed for long distances.

In addition to the folding head, this carriage had a folding wooden apron known as a water deck, and a screen of small, glazed windows to protect the occupants from the elements, all of which could be folded away during fine weather.

A black Barouche parked up at Arlington Court and the National Trust Carriage Museum, Devon
Barouche at the National Trust Carriage Museum | © National Trust Images / John Hammond

1784 – 'Post' haste

The Royal Mail Coach is introduced by the Post Office to speed up mail deliveries.

19th century

1805 – A day's travel

The coach journey from Barnstaple to Taunton takes about 14 hours.

1814 – European travel

The Antrobus Travelling Chariot, we believe, was used by Colonel Antrobus to travel to the Congress of Vienna.

There are now 69,200 registered carriages on Britain’s roads.

1820 – Britzschka

The Britzschka becomes popular as a travelling carriage in England.

This type of carriage was introduced to Britain from Germany and became popular with wealthy families because of its adaptability. The name comes from the Polish word for travelling wagon.

1827 – Mail coaches reach North Devon

A coach journey from Barnstaple to Taunton now takes about eight hours.

The first Royal Mail Coach in North Devon leaves Barnstaple in September. It takes five hours to reach Taunton, 11 to get to Bristol, and reached London in 26 hours.

1836 – Hansom Cabs

Hansom Cabs are first seen on the streets of London.

Most Hansoms were privately owned, and they had a somewhat disreputable image. The one on display in the museum dates from the late 19th century.

1839 – Brougham

The Brougham makes its appearance.

The Double Brougham in the collection was built as a wedding present for Colonel F.M. Hext of Pinhoe, near Exeter. It was used during his honeymoon on the Isle of Wight and has the family crest on the door.

The Victoria Carriage at The National Trust's Carriage Museum at Arlington Court, Devon
The Victoria Carriage at The National Trust's Carriage Museum | © National Trust Images / Mark Bolton

1869 – Victoria

The Victoria carriage is named after the Queen when one is purchased for her by her son, then the Prince of Wales.

1898 – Falling out of fashion

The last scheduled stage coach runs between Barnstaple and Lynton. At this point, at the end of the 19th century, there are still some 500,000 private carriages in Britain.

20th century

1914 – First World War

In the first two weeks of the First World War, the British Army purchases some 140,000 horses.

Additionally, skilled horsemen volunteer – or are conscripted – for the Armed Services. Carriage makers, wheelwrights and blacksmiths are recruited into the services or diverted into war work. Carriage use declines.

1940 – Second World War

An increase in small carriage use is encouraged by the introduction of petrol rationing. The Pony Phaeton on display is one such carriage.

1967 – Establishing the collection

The National Trust sets up the carriage collection at Arlington Court; the location was chosen as Arlington had an empty stable block.

The carriages belonging to the Chichester family are thought to have been sold in 1911, when a car was purchased.

21st century

Investing in the future

In 2004, a new wing of the carriage museum was completed to house the expanding collection.

The Victoria Carriage at The National Trust's Carriage Museum at Arlington Court, Devon

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