'The Driver of the Mail', 1832.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Oil painting by H Alken. The improvement in the road network in the mid 18th century led to the introduction of the mail coach in 1784, providing a combined pasenger and mail delivery service. Mail was stowed both in the foreboot beneath the coachman's feet, and in the rear compartment of the coach. The coach carried four pasengers inside, and four more on top behind the driver. Fares were paid to innkeepers at coaching inns along the route. As well as the driver, mail coaches carried an armed Mail Guard to protect the mail from highwaymen. The expansion of the railway network led to the demise of the horse-drawn Royal Mail coach in the 1840s.