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Up until the early 20th century, horse-drawn carriages were a popular form of transportation. Though originally carriages were basic vehicles, by the Regency Era they became more comfortable and luxurious.
From basic two-wheeled vehicles to elegant private coaches, there are several types of horse-drawn carriages.
Though they are not commonly used for transportation today, carriages are still used for recreation, competition, and ceremonies.
Carriages are four-wheeled vehicles typically meant for private use, though carriages were also used for public transport as well. They are generally pulled by four or two horses, though some styles only use one horse. There are also two-wheeled carriages that are less formal than their four-wheeled counterparts.
Here are some of the most common and unique types of horse-drawn carriages.
1. Hackney Coach
The hackney coach is one of the oldest styles of carriage that was popular during the 17th century. They were used as private for-hire carriages that were licensed and regulated.
A hackney coach is a four-wheeled vehicle drawn by two horses, with the ability to hold six passengers. They have a basic design with the original style being described as a “primitive springless box on wheels.” The hackney gave way to the cabriolet in the 19th century.
One of the most recognizable types of carriage is the stagecoach. Stagecoaches are four-wheeled vehicles that are enclosed with windows and a roof.
Stagecoaches can sit six people inside, with seating sometimes available on the roof as well. They were commonly used for public transportation through cities. Traditionally, four to six horses are used to pull a stagecoach due to its strongly sprung and heavy design.
A buggy is a light carriage with a simple design and seating for two people, generally drawn by one or two horses. Also known as a roadster or a trap, it can have two or four wheels.
Buggies generally have a folding or falling top, however, some American styles have a covered top. They were a popular choice for transportation from the 18th to 20th centuries and are still commonly used by the Amish today in America.
4. Hansom Cab
Named after Joseph Hansom, the hansom cab was designed for both speed and safety, with a low center of gravity. A type of cabriolet, it replaced the hackney carriage as a vehicle for hire.
Hansom cabs have a light design and are generally two-wheeled with just one horse pulling the cab. It sits two passengers snuggly, with the driver sitting on a sprung seat behind the vehicle.
The landau is a type of luxury carriage that is four-wheeled with a roof that can be pulled down. The low shell design gave occupants the ability to show off their clothing, which made it a popular choice among aristocrats in England.
This style of carriage generally sits between four to six people, with the coachmen sitting in an elevated seat. It is often pulled by two to four horses and is still used for Royal ceremonies today in England.
With a lighter and faster design, the phaeton is a sporty open carriage pulled by one or two horses. It is a four-wheeled vehicle that became popular during Regency Era among aristocrats.
With open seating, four large wheels, and a very lightly sprung body, the phaeton was known for being dangerous among speed seekers. The vehicle generally sits just two people and it was a popular option among young men for sport.
The barouche is a four-wheeled carriage with an elegant design, making it a popular choice among royalty and the wealthy. Its design carries two passengers on either side, with two horses generally pulling this style of carriage.
Barouche carriages often had an open design with a hood that could be raised to provide protection from the weather. However, the hood generally only protected one side of passengers. It has a lightweight design and was often a popular choice for summer outings.
The post-chaise is a fast style of traveling carriage that was popular during the 18th and 19th centuries. Drawn by two horses, the design features a closed body, four wheels, and seating for two to four people.
Post-chaise carriages share a similar design to stagecoaches, but tended to be more expensive. They were generally used for traveling posts. The driver often rode postillion on the near-side horse of a pair or of one of the pairs attached to the post-chaise.
Named after its designer Lord Brougham, the Brougham carriage is a light, four-wheeled carriage built in the 19th century. This style was popular during the Victorian age among both the middle class and aristocrats.
Broughman carriages have an enclosed body with two doors with seating for two, though sometimes they had an extra pair of fold-away seats in the front. The front features a box seat for the driver and a footman or passenger. Unlike coaches, Broughmans generally have a glazed front window.
A cabriolet, simply also known as a cab, is a type of light two-wheeled vehicle pulled by a single horse. It holds two occupants, one of which is the driver, and has a rear platform that was used for grooms.
Cabriolets were developed in France and replaced the hackney carriage as the vehicle of choice for hire in Paris and London. It has a light design with a folding top to protect the two passengers from the weather.
The cabriolet was popular as a fashionable vehicle during Queen Victoria’s reign, with different variations including the hansom cab.
A gig is a light, two-wheeled spring carriage pulled by a single horse. Traditional gigs often have more formal designs, with the seats sitting higher than the level of the shafts.
Gigs were affordable and fashionable, making them popular country vehicles. They generally have seating room for one to two people. There are several different styles of gigs, with lighter gigs used for harness racing.
12. Brake (Break)
A brake is a large open country four-wheeled carriage that often had a raised box for the driver. Brake carriages come in many different styles, including a shooting brake.
A shooting brake could carry up to six men, along with their hunting dogs, guns, and game. In the 19th century, brakes were a popular choice for breaking young horses to drive.
Also read: How Fast & Far Can a Horse-Drawn Carriage Travel?