26 June 1763 - First Glasgow to Greenock Stagecoach Introduced

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26 June 1763 - First Glasgow to Greenock Stagecoach Introduced

On 26 June 1763, the first stagecoach service between Glasgow and Greenock was introduced. 

Stagecoaches were so-called because they delivered and picked up passengers at designated locations or stages throughout their journey. In the days before railways, roads linking such commercially important places as Glasgow and Greenock were vital in maintaining communication and encouraging trade.    

The service departed from Glasgow at 6am every Monday, Wednesday and Friday and from Greenock at 3pm every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. Tickets could be bought in advance at a cost of five shillings for inside passengers and two shillings six pence for passengers behind. Each passenger was allowed ten pounds of baggage weight. Although the stagecoach has been consigned to history, Glasgow City Archives holds a number of records which tell the story of both the stagecoach and the roads they travelled on.     

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​​Taylor and Skinner’s Survey and Maps of the Roads of North Britain or Scotland, 1775 (ref: TD359) – Stages List

This survey includes a list of the stages on the Great Roads of Scotland and details the distances between each stage and also the total distance from Edinburgh. The detail shows the stages between Edinburgh and Greenock. Between Glasgow and Greenock (a distance of 22.5 miles according to the list), there were two stages at Renfrew and Port Glasgow.
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​Taylor and Skinner’s Survey and Maps of the Roads of North Britain or Scotland, 1775 (ref: TD359) – Maps of Roads between Glasgow and Greenock

This detail image shows the roads running between Glasgow and Greenock. Key features include the homes of local landowners and the locations of tolls along the roads. The image shows the home of the Stuart family, one of the local landowners for Greenock. This family later became known as the Shaw-Stuarts of Ardgowan and Glasgow City Archives holds their estate papers (ref: T-ARD).
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​County of Renfrew, Commissioners of Supply minute book, 30 April 1766, p17 (ref: CO2/1/1/1)

In 1763, the construction and maintenance of roads were the responsibility of private landowners and officials known as Commissioners of Supply. This extract notes that the commissioners paid “to Alexander Houstoun of Jordanhill Esqre eight pounds sterling for repairing the road from Blawerthill Ferry to the toll road leading by Scotstoun to Kilpatrick”.  
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​Rates of toll levied on Shotts and Airdrie Road, 1811 (ref: TD200/69) 

Toll roads were in operation from the seventeenth century and continued until the nineteenth. A toll was paid by each road user at a gate or tollhouse along the road. The total cost of the toll was dependent on many factors including length of the vehicle, its cargo and the number of passengers it was carrying. The money raised was used to pay for road repairs and mileposts. Many toll roads were operated by turnpike trusts and Glasgow City Archives holds records of several of these trusts for both Glasgow and western counties including Dunbartonshire and Lanarkshire. 
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​Caption 5. Detail from a plan of Greenock, 1818 (ref: T-ARD1/5/E24) 

This detail has been taken from a Plan of the town of Greenock and its Environs with the Intended Improvements by David Reid. The plan itself is part of the Shaw-Stuart of Ardgowan collection. The detail shows the junction of Hamilton Street with Cathcart Street at the Square. On the north-east side of the Square is a building marked N – this is the coaching inn where the stagecoaches would have stopped.  
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​Bye-laws made by magistrates for the regulation of Stage Coaches, 1925 (ref: D-TC14/2/18/1185) 

Although the popularity and use of stagecoaches had dwindled throughout the twentieth century, the term still remained in use by Glasgow Corporation. In these bye-laws prepared by the Magistrates Committee, the corporation sets out rules for Stage Coaches (also known as omnibuses or buses). These include assigning dedicated portions of particular streets for use as stands; confirming that no coaches should remain at a stand for longer than 15 minutes and that each company operating a coach should submit a timetable for reference to the corporation. 
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Photograph of Coach Inn at Holm Street from Blythswood St, c.1970 (ref: D-PL2/1/2756)  
While stagecoaches are no longer used as a method of transport, their memory has been preserved through the names of buildings in various parts of Glasgow. This image has been taken from the photographic collection of Glasgow Corporation’s Planning Department and shows a pub called the Coach Inn which was based at Holm Street. ​
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