A House of Lords committee in 1836 took evidence from a wide range of representatives from affected concerns while considering the Brighton Railway Bill. It needed to compare the merits of the three main proposals for rail routes to Brighton that were under consideration. One of the things it examined in detail was its impact on the postal service. This would largely be eliminated, and passengers would either take another coach or travel by train.
Much of this business and traffic was lost once the railway was open for business in 1841. This extract doesn't include the rest of the passenger coach business which must have been covered elsewhere.
One way of assessing the postal service was to arrange to count the number of pack horses at principal hostelries that acted as posting houses in the area over six months. Here is part of the testimony of the Brighton solicitor's clerk entrusted with this task:
Mr John Barreiro is called in, and examined as follows:
(Mr Serjeant Merewether.) You are Clerk to Messrs. Attree, Clarke, and Company?
Did you, on the 11th of September 1835 and the 11th of March 1836, take an account of the post horses at the Castle Inn at Hickstead?
I took it on the 11th of March 1836.
To what did it amount ?
I took it for six months, late in the evening, it amounted to 1,884 pairs and a half, at the Castle Inn at Hickstead.
Between the 11th of September 1835 and the 11th of March 1836?
Yes, both days inclusive.
Did you take the same account at the King’s Head, Cuckfield?
Yes; that was 376 pairs.
In what period?
In the same time.
And at the Talbot?
That was 107 pairs.
2,367 and a half at the three posting houses.
Do you know Brighton well?
And you are acquainted with the Neighbourhood?
As well as most men who reside there.
Do you know where Mr. Stephenson’s Termini will be?
Yes, in the Western Road.
ED: To sum up, the King's Head in 1835/6 had well over three times the postal coach service of The Talbot. and there were 18 coaches a week passing through Cuckfield.
20 July 1836 Evidence of the Brighton Railway Bill, Minutes of Evidence
Illustration: 'Mail coaches on the road, the 'Quicksilver' Devonport-London Royal Mail about to start with a new team' by Charles Cooper Henderson. Wikimedia public domain image.
Contributed by Malcolm Davison.