Tom Bradley was a prolific contributor of articles to The Yorkshire Post, Evening Post and Weekly Post. A popular series on Yorkshire rivers, each illustrated by a strip map shoeing places of interest and topographical details was later published as a series of handy sized booklets. The series The Old Coaching Days in Yorkshire, was greatly expanded, and published as the present book in 1889.
We tend to think of the stagecoach period as being in the early years of the nineteenth century and that the coaches were killed of by the advent of railways. In fact, Bradley shows that the peak year for stagecoach services in Leeds for example was 1838, with a hundred and thirty departing and arriving each 24 hours. Stage coache sperformed a useful service well into the 1850s, as the spread of railways encouraged more people to travel, by providing links between as yet unconnected railways and towns. Even after railways had opened, coach services to resorts like Harrogate and Scarborough operated during the holiday season.
When Bradley was researching his articles in the 1880s, there were still folk around with memories of the coaching days, who provided him with tales of some of the personalities involved, and of course the Yorkshire Post files would contain adverts and timetables for the various coaches. The book contains over 30 pages listing named coaches, their years of operation, routes taken, and the inns and hotels used at each terminal point.
One of several interesting examples of transport integration was the RAILWAY coach, which began running in June 1835, leaving the Elephant and Castle Knaresborough, at 5a.m. (Ugh!). It ran through Ribstone, Wetherby, Thorparch, Bramham Crosroads and Aberford to Micklefield. Here it met the Leeds and Selby railway, running in connection with the steam packets to Goole Hull and Grimsby. The return coasch journey to Knaresborouh left Micklefield on arrival of the train from Selby. Fares from Knaresborough to Hull, outside seat on coach, fore cabin on the steamer, 6s 6d.
Inside coach and best cabin on steamer,10s 6d.
There are many other examples quoted of coaches making connections en route with other coaches, with canal fly boats and with trains. These would imply a fair degree of reliability in terms of punctuality.
Obviously, travel in the stagecoach heyday was not quite as primitive as one might have thought!