On this day … 11 April 1835

The Preston Chronicle carried two advertisements that perfectly capture Britain on the verge of a transport revolution that was to transform the landscape as a network of railway lines rapidly covered the country. But in 1835, the stagecoach was still king, and new routes were still being developed.

On the front page of the Chronicle the following advertisement appeared:

Preston and Longridge Railway: Notice is hereby given that application is intended to be made to Parliament, in the next session, for an act to form a railway between Preston and Longridge.

Turn to page two and the following advertisement is found:

New Coach to Blackpool: On Saturday next the 18th instant, a new four-inside coach called the Dispatch will commence running from Blackpool through Lytham to the Legs of Man Inn, [in Fishergate] Preston, and continue every Saturday and Wednesday till the commencement of the Blackpool season, when it will run daily.
The coach will leave Blackpool at eight in the morning, and arrive in Preston in time for coaches to all parts of the North and South; and will start from Preston at three in the afternoon, and arrive in Blackpool at six …

The Preston to Longridge railway was opened just five years after the railway linking Liverpool and Manchester went into service. And Preston did not get a rail link to those two towns until 1838. The Longridge line was a horse-drawn tramway, steam not arriving until some years later, and was built to bring sandstone from the recently-opened Tootle Heights quarry to Preston.

Passengers were something of an afterthought, and transport on an open rudimentary carriage cannot have been a very pleasant experience. In Preston, they were deposited at the original station behind Stephenson Terrace on Deepdale Road.

The operators of the new stagecoach service must have thought there was a market for their service, and clearly Blackpool was already well established as a resort, if a daily service in the season was envisaged. The resort would have to wait for the arrival of the railway for the influx of day trippers to begin.

Peter Whittle in his history of Preston published in 1821 supplies information about the stagecoaches running from the town. There were three operators, all based in Church Street and all offering a daily service of coaches to all parts of the country: Thomas Scott at the Bull Inn (now Bull and Royal), John Holland at the Red Lion and William Garth at the Old Red Lion.

Other forms of public transport at that time included the packet boat service between Preston and Kendal on the Lancaster Canal. And also ‘Boats go every spring tide, during the bathing season, by the River Ribble, to Lytham’.

By the time the railway did reach Blackpool, in 1846, the stagecoach era had ended, although some operators continued to operate a service to towns not connected to the rail network.

Advert for a stagecoach service between Preston and Blackpool
Advert for the Preston and Longridge Railway 1835

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