Georgian Flying Machines

Image courtesy of the DeadPubs Directory

While doing some further research about Susanna Hope (see the previous post on a Very Regency Scandal) I came across the following gem:

From the Derby Mercury 1762


Flying Machines from London to Manchester in three days from the Swan with Two Necks in Lad-Lane London and from the Swan with Two Necks in Market-street-Lane Manchester, every Monday and Thursday Mornings at Four o’Clock; and from the GEORGE INN in DERBY every Tuesday and Friday Mornings, at Four o’Clock: each passenger from DERBY to LONDON to pay One Pound Eight Shillings, and to be allowed fourteen pounds Weight of Luggage; all above to pay Two pence per pound.

We seem to have forgotten that stage coaches were once called ‘machines’, although we do still refer to those wheeled vehicles for preserving modesty on England’s beaches as bathing machines.

I reckon that in terms of retail prices this express service cost about twice as much as a first class train ticket does today – well beyond the means of an average worker.

Moreover it appears that charges for excess baggage did not originate with the budget airlines!


One thought on “Georgian Flying Machines”

  1. Anne Powers

    And if you ever wondered whether there really was a swan that had two necks, this is from the British Pub Guide:

    Swan With Two Necks – There are a few of these about. It is a staple of pub quizzes that Swans have traditionally been the property of the reigning Monarch. However, in the 16th century, good Queen Bess thought it would be nice to let someone else have some swans. She granted such a right to the Worshipful Company of Vintners. In order to be able to tell which Swan belonged to whom, it was decided that Vintners’ swans should have their beaks marked with two notches, or nicks. Now, in those days, ‘neck’ was another form of ‘nick’ and so the ever witty Vintners spotted that a Swan With Two Necks could afford them a rather clever pun, and so signs outside Vintners’ taverns began to show Swans with two necks (and heads, otherwise it would look weird). Hence ‘The Swan With Two Necks’.

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