In the 1850 Post Office Directory for Redbourn it says "Previous to railway being opened upwards of 80 coaches passed through, and now there is not a single conveyance."
Redbourn is on Watling Street, which was a Roman road which became the main road out London for the North and North West. With the coming of the turnpike roads in the 18th century, which supported far better services than had previously been possible, the stage coach came into its own as a means of passenger transport, and by 1830 Redbourn was a busy coaching town. Travel was "fast" with the Peveril of the Peak taking 44 hours to carry passengers from Edinburgh to London, an average speed of nearly 10 miles an hour. In addition to stage coaches and goods waggons there would be private travellers by coach, on horseback, and on foot.
The coming of the first mainline trains from London to Birmingham in 1837 caused a devastatingly fast decline in the trade, as it was now possible to travel significantly faster and more cheaply.
The 1839 Pigot's directory records the transport at, or just past, its peak as the entry for St Albans reports a coach leaving the Blue Boar Inn, Market Place every morning at half past seven to catch trains at Watford for London and Birmingham, returning at seven at night. The Redbourn entry includes the nearby villages of Flamstead, close to Watling Street and Harpenden - on the road from St Albans to Luton - which was less busy than Watling Street but still carrying a lot of traffic. In the following extracts I have concentrated of the activities related to the traffic through Redbourn.
To LONDON, - the Royal Mail (from Derby) calls at the White Horse, every morning at half past three - the Swallow (from Birmingham) calls at the Red Lion every morning at six - the Times (from Dunstable) calls at the Bull every morning (Sunday excepted) at a quarter past eight - and the Express (from Leeds) calls at the White Horse every morning at half past nine - a coach (from Northampton) calls at the White Hart, and one (from Wellingborough) calls at the Red Lion, every afternoon at two - the Defiance (from Manchester) calls at the White Horse, every afternoon at three - the Star (from Liverpool) calls at the Bull, every afternoon at four.
The following coaches are from London.
To AMPTHILL & BEDFORD, a coach calls at the Bull, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday afternoon at five.
To BIRMINGHAM, the Swallow calls at the Red Lion, every evening at nine.
To DERBY and HALIFAX, the Royal Mail calls at the White Horse, every night at half-past ten.
To DUNSTABLE, the Times, calls at the Bull, every evening at half-past seven.
To LEEDS, the Express, calls at the White Horse, every evening at half past seven.
To LIVERPOOL, the Star, calls at the Bull, every night at a quarter before nine.
To MANCHESTER, the Defiance, calls at the White Horse, every night at ten.
To NORTHAMPTON, a coach calls at the White Hart, every afternoon at half-past three.
To WELLINGBOROUGH, a coach, calls at the Red Lion, every afternoon at one.
CARRIERS - Waggons, etc
[The directory does not make it clear which go through Redbourn and which through Harpenden, so all have been listed.]
To LONDON, - Clark's waggons and carts pass through Redbourn daily; Codgbrook, every Monday, Wednesday and Friday evening; Whitbread, Deacon, Stoke & Haydon, every Monday and Thursday, and Shepherd, same days and Saturday evening; Huckel's cart, from Redbourn common-side, every Monday and Thursday; Barnes from the same place, and Jeeves from Fish Street, every Thursday, and Curtis's van, every Tuesday evening.
To AMPTHILL, - Whitbread, every Wednesday and Saturday morning. (via Harpenden?)
To BIRMINGHAM, - Clare's Fly Waggons, every Wednesday and Saturday morning.
To DAVENTRY, - Shepherd, every Tuesday and Wednesday morning and Friday night.
To LUTON, - Clarke's Waggon and carts daily, and Deacon, Haydon, Whitbread, and Stokem every Wednesday and Saturday. (via Harpenden?)
To STONY STRATFORD, - Curtis's Van, every Friday morning.
To TOWCESTER, - Ellis' Waggons, every Wednesday & Saturday morning.
To WELLINGBOROUGH, - Codgbrook, every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning,
Bull, Thomas Dixon (posting and commercial & excise
office) High Street
Red Lion, William Hooper, High Street
White Hart, Jno. Jas. Tomlinson, High Street
White Horse, Jospeh Lilly, High Street
TAVERNS & PUBLIC HOUSES
Black Horse, John Patmore, Market Street Road
Chequers, Thomas Partridge, London Road
Crown, Michael Smith, High Street
George & Dragon, Chas. Carpenter, High Street
Holly Bush, Joseph Abbott, Church End
Lion & Lamb, George Pusey, High Street
Prince's Head, James Dell, High Street
Punch Bowl, William Seabrook, London Road
Saracen's Head, Thos. Scrivener, High Street
Tom in Bedlam, Thomas Ballard, High Street
Cheeseman Joseph, High Street
Smith Daniel, Redbournbury Lane
Woodstock Charles, Lamb Lane
Pedder John, High Street
Cole William, Fish Street
Lord Johannah, High Street
An extensive chapter, "Travellers and Transport", is in the book Redbourn's History - and includes further information on Redbourn's Inns.
February 2003 - Black Horse
Jonathan Walters (jn.walters @t virgin.net) writes: I collect pewter and recently acquired a pint tavern pot with a wrigglework cartouche which, though rubbed, appears to read as follows;
I am assuming that Redburne is an old spelling of Redbourn - the mug dates to around 1830 (suggested by both style and maker) and has numerous verification marks for St Albans Liberty and Hertford County.
The date also fits in well with the information given above, which shows that a John Patmore was the publican at the Black Horse, Redbourn, in the 1830's (I wonder if T Patmore was his father - or is the initial a rubbed J?). He may have been the 49 year old John Patmore who was landlord of the Red Lion, Harpenden in the 1851 census.
It is always interesting when something survives from the past with the name of its owner or creator on it. Examples featured on this site are tokens issued in 1667 by John Kent, Grocer, of Barkway the Christie bottle from Hoddesdon, the Fehrenbach barometer or W. A Dixon's brick.
August 2003 - The White Horse Inn
Dora B. Wode (vwode @t hotmail.com) writes : I have been researching the Harris of Scout Farm and the Bothamleys of Redbourn. I just reviewed the land tax microfilm of Redbourn and found my families and especially William Harris as occupier of "White Horse Inn" The film showed a Mrs Gould? as owner for years and then Mr Alex Dodd. In about 1822 it showed Mrs Dodd one year and that is the year that it ceased to show up on the tax form. My Harris family was involved as occupiers from 1783 (start of film) to 1822 (end of film 1825) The Inn was mentioned in two of the wills of the Harris family. Do you know if the Inn is still there? I have not been able to find it on a modern map.
The recently published book Redbourn's History includes a map showing the locations of the old inns, and shows the White Horse on the east side of the High Street, immediately adjacent to the Bull - which, according to Hertfordshire Inns and Public Houses was first recorded in 1595 and is still operating.
The Redbourn described above, in 1839, was badly hit by the coming of the railways. Three major coaches called at the White Horse Inn daily in 1839, and all are likely to have succumbed to the competition within a few years (see quote at the head of this web page.) In fact it could well have ceased to be a coaching inn by about 1840 (it would be interesting to see if the Inn can be identified in the 1841 census).
By the 1851 census the 1839 landlord, Joseph Liley, had moved and is described as a "retired InnKeeper", aged 65. The occupant of "White Horse, High Street" was a William Lord, a 27 year old "wheelwright and victualler" with no resident staff or guests, so it would seem that at least part of the old inn was being run as a pub by William. [In fact an inn as busy as the White Horse coaching inn had been may well have has a wheelwright's shop in its yard. But of course the wheelwright business would also have been hit by the decline in coaching business.]
In 1866 a George Lines was listed as the landlord in the Post Office Directory. It is not listed by name in the 1882 or 1890 directories, but a Joseph Ayre is listed at "Brockway".
Redbourn's History lists the more interesting houses in the town and Says "Brockway was the White Horse. Sold in 1892 as an old fashioned residence and brought by the occupier, Dr. Ayre, who renamed it using his middle name."
It would appear to be No 45 and 49 High Street, which is a grade II listed building describe by the Department of the Environment in 1953 as House and shop, built as an inn. C16 timber frame. Good early C18 front in brown brick with red brick dressings and gauged brick lintels. Plain tiled roof. Plastered floor band and wooden eaves band. 2 storeys. ... Northernmost window is over a braod segmental-headed coach entrance with 16C ceiling and wall timbers exposed. Interior has exposed wall and ceiling timbers. Rear has a C18 hipped roof projection and long C17-18 painted-brick and timber-frame former stable range, now a shop.
Dora B. Wode (vwode @t hotmail.com) has now visited the area and reports: I recently made a trip to Redbourn and found the old "White Horse Inn." It is now a solicitors office and the through way to the back is still there. Next door is still the Bull and we were able to have lunch in the old Inn part. The White Horse Inn stayed in the family until 1826.
Though we did not get to the site of the old Mill (Do Little) as it was quite a walk and raining, I did find that that was the mill leased by the Bothamleys and then the Harris/Bothamley family until 1809. I visited the Scout Farm, right at the edge of the Redbourn village. The house was replaced in the 1890s but the old barn was still there. All in all a wonderful trip back in time.
November 2004 - Red Lion
See answer to Paul's query on The Red Lions of Hertfordshire
If you can add to the information given above tell me.
Page updated November 2004