[The following passage from the Chambers 1838 Gazetteer of Scotland appears on page 490-92. — George P. Landow.]

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lasgow is greatly pre-eminent over the capital in the multitude and variety of its public conveyances, partly on account of the greater intercourse prevailing in a commercial than in an aristocratic town, and partly in consequence of the increasing facility which steamboats, and the neighbourhood of so many inland seas, have here occasioned in one great department of travelling. Locomotion may almost be considered as one of the staple objects of Glasgow industry; and it is actually no uncommon thing for people to come hither from different patts of the Lowlands of Scotland, Edinburgh included, in order, as it were, to commence their journey by some one of the innumerable vehicles fitted for land and sea, which here start every hour for different parts of the empire. Now, that there are such improvements in modes of travelling, it is worth while to look back to notice the dilatory processes of our ancestors.

Stage Coaches

We learn from Dr. Cleland that stage-coaches were first established between Edinburgh and Glasgow in 1678. “On the 6th of August in that year, Provost Campbell, and the other magistrates of Glasgow, entered into an agreement with William Hume, a merchant in Edinburgh, to the effect that he should run a coach between Edinburgh and Glasgow. The indenture was as follows: —

“At Glasgow, the saxt day of August, 1678: the foresaid parties finally agree that the said William Hume, a merchant in Edinburgh, with all diligence, have in readiness one sufficient strong coach to run betwixt Edinbro [sic] and Glasgow, to be drawn by sax able horses, to leave Edinbro ilk Monday morning, and return again (God willing) ilk Saturday night, the passengers to have the liberty of taking a cloak bag for receiving their clothes, linens, and sic like, the burgesses of Glasgow always to have a preference to the coach; the fare from the first of March till the first of September, which is considered simmer weather, is to be £.4, 16s. Scots (8s. sterling); during the other months, considered winter months, the fare is to be £.5, 8s. Scots (9s. sterling). As the undertaking is arduous, and cannot be accomplished without assistance, the said magistrates agree to give the said William Hume two hundred merks a-year for five years, the latter agreeing to run the coach for that period, whether passengers apply or not, in consideration of his having actually received two years' premium in advance (£.22, 4s. 5d. sterling)."

It does not appear how long Hume's coach kept the road. It is found from Creech's Fugitive Pieces, that “in 1713, with the exception of two coaches which ran between Edinburgh and Leith, there was only one stage-coach in Scotland, which set out once a-month from Edinburgh for London, and was from twelve to sixteen days on the road.” For many years after stage-coaches began to ply betwixt Edinburgh and Glasgow, the journey was performed in a most tedious manner. In good "simmer" weather, the vehicles, which were of the clumsiest construction, were pulled by four horses, and in bad weather, when the roads were "heavy," by six, the passengers invariably dismounting at all the ascents; and being generally from eleven to twelve hours on the road, they thus progressed at the rate of about three and three-fourth miles in the hour, including stoppages.

These stoppages were the most amusing part of the ceremonial of travelling betixt the two cities. The coaches made two principal, besides innumerable lesser halts, during which, the passengers dined, and took tea; and we are informed by a sexagenarian who frequently made the journey in this way, that at these meals it was customary for the gentlemen passengers to treat all the ladies who happened to be with them. For a period of nearly thirty years, one of these diligences continued to travel daily in this manner, when it was superseded about the year 1790, by chaises drawn by two horses, which performed the journey in seven hours and a half.

In 1799 the time on the road was diminished to six hours, by the establishment of coaches drawn by four horses. The first of this kind which started was the Royal Telegraph, on the 10th of January 1799, in the proprietary of Mr. John Gardner, of the Star Inn, Glasgow, and partners. This spirited undertaking was soon followed by others, and since that time the number of coaches running betwixt Glasgow and Edinburgh has increased to twelve, (if not more,) each carrying from ten to fourteen passengers, and performing the journey on an average in five hours. The experiment of running with two horses, and changing six instead of four times, has been found successful in some cases, when the journey is executed occasionally in three hours and forty minutes. The greatest modem improvement yet made in running stage-coaches between Glasgow and Edinburgh, has been the establishment of morning coaches, starting at six o'clock, a.m., by which passengers have an opportunity of proceeding back and forward in one day.

In 1830, a railway was projected to be laid between the two cities, and the intermediate districts having been surveyed, the measure is now in preparation. In all probability this plan will be speedily carried into effect, when, as a matter of course, it will almost altogether supersede the ordinary coaches, and bring the two cities into the closest and most beneficial connexion. Under the head of Edinburgh it has been said that, reckoning passengers by coaches as well as by track-boats, about 400 individuals pass and repass daily between Glasgow and Edinburgh.

By a statistical table drawn up in 1828, which is the latest we can procure, it appears that the following was the number of coaches and their destinations proceeding to and from Glasgow — the greater part being daily; some, especially those to Paisley, twice a-day; others twice and thrice a week; London, 1, (a mail); Carlisle, 1; Edinburgh, 12, (now 2 daily mails); Perth, 2; Stirling, 2; Alloa, 1; Kirkcaldy 1; Balfron, 1; Airdrie, 2; Campsie, 1; Kippen, 1; Kilsyth, 1; Drymen, 1; Newmains, 1; Peebles, Kelso, and Berwick, 1; Lanark, 3; Strathaven, 1; Hamilton, 5; Ayr, 2; Kilmarnock, 3; Saltcoats, 2; Barrhead, 1; Pollockshaws, 2; Renfrew, 1; Greenock, 1; and Paisley 13; making a total of 61, and drawn by 671 horses. Since this list was made up, the number of coaches has considerably increased, especially those to Edinburgh.


The carriers for the transmission of goods by land are as numerous as those of Edinburgh, and in communication with all parts of Great Britain.


It was upon the Clyde at Glasgow that this species of vessel was first used in Great Britain as a mode of conveyance for passengers. Several persons in different parts of the world, during the last century, attempted the propelling of boats and ships by the power of steam, but the first who put the invention in a fair train for success, was Mr. Patrick Miller, of Dalswinton, Dumfriesshire, in 1785. He made some experiments on small vessels of the double keel description, here and on the Forth and Clyde Canal, and some of them were found to be very successful. The next best attempted was made in 1801-2, by Mr. Symington, of Falkirk, under the orders of Lord Dundas, then governor of the Forth and Clyde navigation, and the boat he got put up answered the purpose of tugging vessels along the Canal, but from the opposition of some narrow-minded proprietors, it was abandoned. The various steam-propellers having thus left the field, without being able to effect the object of their ambition, the ground was occupied by Mr. Henry Bell, who had been a house-carpenter in Glasgow for a number of years, and had retired to the Baths at Helensburgh, about the year 1808. Having turned his attention to the propelling of boats by steam, he made several experiments on the Clyde, and having at length overcome indescribable difficulties, he had a boat constructed of forty feet keel, and ten feet six inches beam, with a paddle-wheel on each side. He called this vessel the Comet, and began to ply it on the Clyde, between Glasgow and Greenock, in January 1812. The engine employed in the Comet was only of three-horse power, and it could not urge the vessel beyond the rate of seven miles an hour; however, the principles upon which the whole mechanism acted, as has been certified by engineers, have undergone little or no alteration till the present time. There being no patent for the invention, it was speedily copied by others, and spread over the whole of Britain.

Although Bell had thus the honour of introducing the use of steam-boats into this country, such vessels were common in America about four or five years before the launching of the Comet. It seems that, in 1802, when Mr. Symington of Falkirk was engaged in making experiments with steam-boats on the canal, he was called upon by Mr. Robert Fulton of New York, who, by his permission, took notes respecting the invention, and examined the boat which had been constructed, while it was put in motion for the amusement of himself and some other gentlemen. Being satisfied of the utility of steam navigation, Mr. Fulton returned to America, where, after making various experiments, he completely succeeded in perfecting a steam-boat, which he launched at New York in October 1807, and which soon after plied between that city and Albany, a distance of 160 miles, with great effect. The exact proportion of merit due to these ingenious promoters of steam navigation, it is not our duty to establish.

Since 1812, the number of steam-vessels plying to and from Glasgow has increased to about sixty- five, which may be thus specified [see table]:

These vessels depart from and arrive at the quay of the Broomielavv, for the greater part, twice a-day, from early in the morning till the evening, the long- destination boats departing and arriving less frequently. Boards, showing the hours of sailing of nearly the whole, may be seen near the head of the quay. In general, each vessel carries ofF, on an average, twenty passengers; and on Saturdays, fairs, or other holidays, it is not unusual for at least eighteen or twenty boats to carry off from one hundred and fifty to two hundred passengers each. The quantity of coal consumed annually in the furnaces of these steam-boats belonging to Glasgow, is computed at about 25,000 tons. The number of passengers altogether departing from Glasgow daily, by coaches, track-boats, and steamvessels, has been calculated at about 2000, the same returning.

Hackney Carriages

Hackney coaches were first established at Edinburgh in 1673, but they did not make their appearance " in Glasgow till a much later period, and even now their number is but few, when compared with the wealth and population of the city. Coaches, called noddies, drawn by one horse, [a great improvement in street coaching, unknown in Edinburgh], were first introduced into Glasgow in 1818. Sedan chairs, which were in great use formerly, have for some time past been on the decline. In 1800, there were twenty-seven for hire in Glasgow; in 1817, only eighteen; and in 1828 the number was reduced to ten. The number of hackney carriages in Glasgow, in August 1828, were as follows :

There are seven persons who let hearses for hire, nine who let coaches with two horses, twenty-six who let coaches with one horse, and seven who let phaetons. The hearses are very gorgeously fitted up; some of them cost two hundred and fifty guineas. Although there are but few hackney carriages here, when compared with other great cities, it redounds much to the credit of proprietors [and taste of the peoplej that they are of a superior quality to those of London and Edinburgh, In these cities it is usual to purchase gentlemen's old carriages, which in Glasgow is never done. It is not uncommon here for postmasters to give two hundred guineas for a hackney coach, and one hundred and fifty guineas for a chaise." In Glasgow there are not a few private carriages; and it is recorded by tradition, that the first person who kept one for his own use was Allan Dreghoni, timber-merchant and builder, who had it made by one of his own house carpenters in 1752.


Chambers, Robert. The Gazetterr of Scotland. Glasgow: Blackie and Son, 1838. Internet Archive online version digitized with funding from National Library of Scotland. Web. 30 September 2018.

Last modified 30 September 2018