Have you ever wondered what the street of London were like in the 18th century? This fantastic museum showcases the standard method of travel for centuries: the carriage. High racing curricles, double-decker vans, homemade sleds, and huge fire tankers are just a few of the wide range of items in their multi-story museum. This is truly a jewel.
Above is Grace Darling, an omnibus used to transport tourist to the seaside. The sheer variety of carriages was surprising. I especially adored an ornately decorated parade fire engine. The stories behind these vehicles ranged from amusing, to educational, and even sobering. Because fire tankers were so heavy they had to be pulled by 10 or more horses and they could not make turns easily or fit in narrow alleys. Fire was a serious danger for most of history, and fighting it was a tough task. A big huzzah for electric lighting.
I never knew that families were more likely to own a sleigh than a wagon. Sleighs were easy to build by hand and the roads were essentially repaved each time it snowed. In this era roads were rutted messes. Some landowners created “pikes” by placing parallel boards of wood where the wheels of a cart would go. To travel on these nicer roads you would need to pay a toll at the turnpike. The road was barricaded with a large pole. Your carriage would drive up to the tollhouse and put your fare in a small bucket on the end of a very long handle held by the tollkeeper. He would swing open the pike and you would be on your way. We still use terms like turnpike to describe tolled highways.