Coach race cut time to London

Lieutenant Colin Churcher

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On Christmas Eve 1877 Andrew Nance, of Baffins Farm, Portsmouth, died aged 67. He was the holder of the record for driving the fastest stagecoach between Portsmouth and London.

In 1835 his coach company advertised a ‘splendid fast coach’, The Tantivy, every day at noon from the Fountain Hotel, High Street, to London, in seven hours.

The service was ‘horsed all the way through with the best description of horses, and short stages, thereby enabling them to perform the journey with the utmost regularity, without racing’.

Stagecoaches in the previous century had taken nine hours and many passengers made their wills before travelling because of the dangers of highwaymen and pot holes.

In 1839, Nance’s competitor, Dick Faulkner, advertised ‘the fastest coach to London’ called The Dart, which left the Bush Hotel, Southsea, at the same time as Nance’s service.

By now, Nance was claiming he could do the journey in six hours and the race was on.

In the event, Faulkner achieved a time of five hours 48 minutes, while Nance pipped him by just six minutes.

The condition of the passengers when they arrived in the capital is not known – fromJohn Sadden’s The Portsmouth Book of Days.