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Mail Coach on Newmarket Heath in a Thunderstorm.

Mail Coach on Newmarket Heath in a Thunderstorm.

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by Pollard, James

Large print from an engraving by R.G. Reeve after James Pollard, originally published by J. Watson in 1827. A ‘flash of lightening’ was slang for a glass of gin or brandy. Coach horses were so used to lightening and bad storms that they were rarely worried by them.

From the lettering on the door, the coach is the Norwich and London Royal Mail – with royal arms on the door, royal cypher on the front boot under the coachman, and the number of the vehicle at the rear. The four body panels showed the order of Bath and St Patrick on the off-side, and Thistle and Garter (visible here) on the near-side. The body of the Royal Mail coach was crimson, and the undercarriage was red.

The coach guard's main duty was to guard the mail, but he also attended to all coach business: the way-bill, collecting fares from passengers, and handling parcels. He also assisted the coachman by seizing the lead horses’ heads. At the top of a steep hill the guard ties a hind wheel with the chain or skid pad, and unties it at the bottom of the hill. Skill was required to achieve this without stopping the coach. Guards were referred to as ‘shooters’ as they carried a blunderbuss and a pair of pistols - although the last of the old-style highwaymen had been hanged by the time of this picture. They were also responsible for the care and maintenance of the coach on the road – for which they carried tools as well as spare parts. The company’s reputation for punctuality, civility, safety and comfort, rested with these foot soldiers, who were only paid ten shillings a week, and relied on tips from grateful passengers.

Slightly age-discoloured paper. Page size is 30 x 51cm (15 x 20 inches). Image approx. 325 x 468mm (12 3/4 x 18 3/8 inches) to border.

Stock Number: daCoaching6Price: $33.00