PART II: THE MAIL, A NEW RECORD (or: How long did it take to get from Hobart to Launceston?) , RIVALRY & DANGEROUS DRIVING
MAILS.–We are happy to state that the Postmaster-General, as well as Mr. Browne, will in future embrace every opportunity of forwarding foreign mails by Mrs. Cox’s coach. We are also informed that that lady is now negotiating an arrangement with government respecting the trans-mission of the local mails by her coach.
Launceston Examiner, 24 February 1844
In referring to one of the means lately proposed as a remedy for this crying evil — viz., the transmission of the mail by Mrs. Cox’s coach, which in that case the spirited proprietress undertakes to convert into a kind of locomotive magazine, manned and garrisoned accordingly — we are afraid it would never answer. Who, in the name of fortune, would like to journey by such a warlike conveyance) with the comfortable assurance forced upon the mind that he would have tonight his way ? The conclusion would be natural enough (more especially to a stranger) upon witnessing such ‘awful note of preparation;’ and we are therefore of opinion, that any attempt of the kind would inevitably prove a total failure. No, no; let the coach continue to be the coach, and the mail the mail : a passenger who takes his seat in the latter does so with a perfect consciousness of what he may be called upon to suffer;but to think of subjecting ladies, and occasionally children, to the terror and alarm of a roadside encounter, is not only cruel, but absurd.
Cornwall Chronicle, 4 May 1844
COACH ACCIDENT.-On Tuesday morning last Mrs. Cox’s Diligence Coach, now the Day Mail, was overturned on its up-journey to Launceston, between the seventh and eighth milestone form Hobart Town. The morning was excessively dark, with a heavy sleet, and, to add to the difficulties, one of the lamps went out just as the coach reached O’Brien’s Bridge, about five miles out of town. The part of the road where the coach upset is one which requires (and has required for some time) repairing. Continued rains during the past two years have worn deep channels on either side leaving a practicable roadway of not much more than eighteen feet in width. The coach was very heavily laden both with luggage and passengers, all of whom escaped without any serious injury except the Government guard Janes, the chartist, who had the misfortune to dislocate his right shoulder.
The Courier, 28 June 1844
Mail Accident. — We learn with regret, that an accident of a serious nature happened to the Mail Coach yesterday afternoon, on its way to Launceston, about one mile from Campbell Town. At the time of the occurrence, the Coach was proceeding steadily along a smooth piece of road, when the axle of the fore-wheels gave way, and it went over.
Continued – Launceston Advertiser, 26 July 1844
MRS COX’S COACH.— Mrs. Cox’s mail coach, on Wednesday last, performed the journey from Hobart Town to Launceston in a shorter space of time than it was ever known to be accomplished in before, viz., thirteen hours. The coach started from Hobart Town at five o’clock in the morning, and arrived in Launceston at six in the evening, allowing only one hour for stoppage. This would given average of ten miles an hour for the entire
Launceston Advertiser, 6 September 1844
EXPEDITIOUS TRAVELLINGS-The convenience of opposition in all matters of public accommodation is exemplified by the ready communication now established between Hobart Town and Launceston. Competition is of course not agreeable to those who desire to retain exclusive advantages, but to others who act upon the “live and let live” principle, it only acts as an additional stimulus ¡for unwearied exertion. However, there is another old saying that “two of a trade never agree,” and we suppose the public are tolerably safe in continuance of the present security against high charges for stage coach travelling between the two capitals. They should understand that the coaches now leave Launceston and Hobart Town, so that by travelling all through in the day, the traveller has a clear day at either of those places, returning to his home on the third, having gone over two hundred and forty miles of ground, with sufficient time for every purpose of prompt business. Whilst acknowledging the great exertions of Mrs. Cox, whose attention to her affairs in a line so unsuited to a female cannot be excelled, it is certainly due to Mr. Hyrons also to bear evidence to his care and indefatigable efforts to ensure the patronage of a portion of tho public for his coach, the Comet, which runs from the London Tavern, Launceston, to Mr. Martin’s, the City Hotel, Elizabeth-street, Hobart Town, at both of which places every accommodation is obligingly afforded. It is proper also to add that the Comet is a remarkably easy and safe coach, going over the entire ground in fourteen hours. Mr. Hyrons has to contend not only against tho influence of Mrs. Cox’s long-established connection, and that power which has its origin in a kindly feeling for the sex; but there is also at the back of all this no less a sum than £1400 per annum for the carriage of the mails. This is heavy odds against Mr. Hyrons, which would frighten some men off the road; but it is not so with him. On the contrary, he is making arrangements by means of shorter stages to succeed in his competition for public favour. The present coachman and guard of his coach, the Comet, are very careful, sober, obliging, and in every respect well conducted men. This is a great point to effect in securing the comfort of travellers, and especially of females, who may have occasionally to travel alone, and unknown to other passengers.
Colonial Times, 1 October 1844
FLOODS IN THE INTERIOR.-The interior is described as presenting an almost incredible spectacle. Owing to recent heavy falls of rain and the melting of the snow on the mountains, land that has for years been high and dry, is now overflowed, and it is feared that the rising crops of grain, &e., will sustain very material damage in many parts of the country. The main road in several places is impassable. The mail coach did not start from Hobart Town, and on Friday, the letter bags were despatched from Launceston in the old conveyance, instead of the regular four horse coach. There is no possibility of getting a heavy conveyance across the country. Mr. Hyrons’ coach, the Comet could not proceed further than Spring Hill, Mrs. Cox’s only ran as far as Oatlands, but as the Hobart Town half-way coach, found it useless to attempt-the journey, the passengers and mail were sent on in spring carts. Even then, in places, particularly Picton, the horses swam along the road, and the conveyance were carried upon poles by probationers. The Launceston coach met with extraordinary obstacles. At Ross the culverts being burst, and the road washed away, the coach took a circuitous route round Mr. Horne’s paddocks. On crossing the bridge, the road was covered with water to such a depth, that it was found impossible to proceed, and returning was quite out of the question. The guard was up to his neck in water upwards of two hours. A probationer in rendering assistance, was washed away, but the overseer with very commendable promptitude stripped, swam after him, and succeeded in saving his life. Mr. Tucker, of Ross, kindly despatched light carts for the assistance of the passengers, of whom there were several, and they got safely out of the difficulty. The coach being lightened, was also extricated, and proceeded on its journey. Fortunately, the bridge at Ross, is substantially built, and the damage is but slight. At Antill Ponds, similar difficulties were experienced; and another man was washed away by the flood, but saved, although with difficulty. The flood has since considerably subsided.
Launceston Examiner, 5 October 1844
Launceston Advertiser, 6 December 1844
MRS. COX’S COACH.-The fares by the mail coach are now reduced to thirty shillings inside, and twenty outside, for the passage between Hobart Town and Launceston.
Launceston Examiner, 15 January 1845
[About a week’s income for a labourer… makes Redline seem cheap :)]
THE COMET V. THE ROYAL MAIL— On Tuesday last, Hewitt, the driver of Mrs. Cox’s mail coach, appeared before the magistrates at the instance of Mr. Hyrons, the proprietor of the Comet stagecoach, to answer to a charge of assaulting the latter, by obstructing the road near the Cocked Hat Hill, on Friday last, as the two coaches were returning to Launceston from Hobart Town, whereby, as stated by Mr. Hyrons, his life was placed in consider-able jeopardy, as well as that of his coachman. The witnesses subpoenaed were nine or ten in number. The immediate origin of the present charge was a circumstance that occurred on Friday last, as the two coaches were returning to Launceston. When descending the Cocked Hat Hill, it appeared that the vehicles were close together; according to Mr. Hyrons and other witnesses, the leaders of the Comet were some nine or ten yards behind the mail, but according to another witness for the complainant (Mr. Monks,) they were about two hundred yards, when, being much lighter than the mail, Mr. Hyrons was desirous of passing that coach, when the driver of the mail(Hewitt) turned his leaders out of the centre of the road, so as to obstruct the passage of the Comet, and from the suddenness of the pull up, which became necessary to prevent accident, Mr. Hyrons was precipitated from the box on to the hard metal, and the driver onto the necks of the wheelers. After a very patient hearing, which occupied about two hours, it appearing from the evidence of Mr. Monks, a passenger by the Comet, that the distance of the coaches from each other at the time Hewitt turned from the centre to the side of the road, was alleged, was two hundred yards, Mr. Douglas, who appeared for the complainant, agreed to give up the case, as the bench ex-pressed their opinion that such a distance was sufficient to have enabled the driver of the Comet to pull up with perfect safety. Mr.Gleadow, who appeared for the defendant, stated that if it had been necessary, he had witnesses who would have given a very different account of the transaction.
Launceston Advertiser, 24 January 1845
THE MAIL COACH.-We are informed that Mrs. Cox imagines the press is opposed to her interests, and in the various reports that have appeared on both sides of the colony, she complains of partiality. This lady cannot expect that all the journals will do her justice, but she may rest assured that the respectable portion of the press will never entertain an attempt to “crush” her. This is too despicable, and were she unjustly assailed she would soon find public writers to defend her conduct. Mrs. Cox is so well known–her honourable and successful exertions to pro-vide for a large family–her enterprise–her obliging disposition–her attentive regard to the wishes of those who visit her coach office have long since conciliated the respect and esteem of the community. Her establishment is conducted in such a manner as to secure the public patronage, and she need only inspect the way-bills of her coaches to perceive that she has obtained it. Whenever heard one say a syllable in disparagement of Mrs. Cox, but we have heard many say much in her favour, and while we regret anything should have appeared, either in our own columns or in those of our reputable contemporaries, that produced the slightest uneasiness its her mind, we may intimate to the respected lady, that to display too much sensitiveness will only encourage a certain class of writers to assail her.
Launceston Examiner, 29 January 1845
THE MAIL.-Mrs. Cox’s new night coach, for the conveyance of the mail, is a handsome, safe, and commodious construction. It reflects credit on the builder, and shows how anxious its spirited proprietor is to accommodate the public. Yesterday our old friend Hewitt, in mail costume, drove the coach through the various streets in town; both became each other–the coach and driver were in excellent keeping. It is no slight compliment to say, that Mr. Hewitt is entitled to drive such a coach, and that it deserves such a whip.
Launceston Examiner, 28 June 1845
MR. FRASER, THE COACHMAKER. – This meritorious artist has turned out a two-horse mail coach for Mrs. Cox, which would be creditable to Long Acre, either as respects mechanical construction, firmness and excellence of workmanship, and beauty of appearance. It only weighs thirteen hundred pounds–it is without a perch, and but five feet six inches from centre of axle to centre, and it carries with ease and comfort four inside passengers — no outsides are permitted. The coachman is alone upon the box, and he has two guards behind, armed with a blunderbuss and carbine (both at their hands, in a box similar to that of the English mails), and when loaded, its gross weight being probably twenty-five hundred pounds, runs with the greatest smoothness and case. Mr. Fraser is building for Mrs Cox another couch in the same style, but two hundred pounds lighter; and a splendid four-horse coach for Mr. Mills, the contractor for the New Norfolk mail. They are all well worthy the most minute inspection.
Colonial Times, 15 August 1845
COACH ACCIDENT.-Within the last ten days, we have had to report two or three accidents to the Comet; and on Saturday, Mrs. Cox’s coach was upset, whilst turning the corner of George and Cameron-streets, near the Cornwall Hotel. ‘This was a very unfortunate occurrence, for only a few yards more would have ended the journey. There were several persons on the coach, and amongst them, two of Mrs. Cox’s children; but we are happy to state, none were seriously injured. The accident occurred in this way. The night was pitch dark, and in the act of turning the corner, one of the four-wheels sunk into a deep hole; this canted the coach suddenly on one side, and it run for at least fifteen yards on two wheels, when it turned over. A cab-man instantly seized the leaders heads, and no farther damage ensued. The occurrence seems to have been purely accidental, and no blame is attributed to Hewitt, whose steadiness as a coachman has been fully tested. The Comet and Royal Mail both came in together on Saturday night, one loaded, and the other nearly empty, and it is perhaps unfortunate as tending to create a suspicion of racing, that the Mail arrived upwards of an hour before the usual time. The Comet rattled through the town at an alarming pace, considering the darkness of the night, and in Elizabeth-street, a very dangerous thoroughfare, the vehicle proceeded at a rapid rate, on the wrong side of the way, the wheels at times being within two feet of the curb-stone. Had there been the least obstruction in the street, an accident must have occurred. There was a lady passenger inside Mrs. Cox’s coach, who fortunately alighted before it upset.
Launceston Examiner, 20 April 1846
Cornwall Chronicle, 21 October 1846
MORVEN POLICE OFFICE.-On Monday a person came before Robert Wales, Esq., to answer a charge of endangering the lives of the passengers of Mrs. Cox’s coach on Monday, the 12th, while labouring under the influence of strong drink, by furiously riding against the leaders of the coach on the road between the lower bridge and the police station at the Cocked Hat, where Hewitt, much to his credit, gave him in charge to Mr. District Constable Harvey, under whose care he spent the night. The fine inflicted was but small, and the costs only trifling; but it is to be hoped it will be a warning to others not to offend in like manner.
Launceston Examiner, 24 October 1846
THE FURIOUS DRIVING INFORMATIONS. Nov. 17. — The office was attended by a great number of persons anxious to hear the information against the drivers of the Hobart Town coaches. The first case was Hortle v. Smith which was an information by the chief district constable against Robert Smith the driver of Mrs. Cox’s coach, called the “Royal Mail,” for furiously driving on the 10th of Nov. at Perth. Mr. Hookey the Solicitor appeared for the defence but from observations made by Mr. Hortle during the investigation, it appeared that Mr. H. had been engaged to conduct the case for the informant, and had had the information submitted to him previous to the summons being served; but in consequence of Mr. Hookey’s having accepted the defence, the C. D. constable was compelled to conduct his own case. Mr. Hookey took an objection to the information that it did not state whose life was endangered by the furious driving. The Bench decided that it was not important and overruled the objection. The defendant pleaded not guilty.
Mr. William Brownrigg. — I am District Constable at Perth, in the district of Longford, in the Island of Van Diemen’s Land; I was at Perth on Tuesday last; I saw the stage-coach called the” Royal Mail” arrive there; it was a coach with four wheels, I know Robert Smith the defendant; he resides at Launceston; he was driving the coach on the night of Tuesday the 10th instant; I saw him driving; he was driving at a most furious rate; I should say about sixteen miles an hour; I swear he was driving at more than three miles an hour; the rate he was driving at was such as to endanger the lives of persons who might be passing on the roads, or who might be passengers by the coach; I know that they receive money from the passengers; there were others who saw the rate at which the defendant was driving, viz., constables Bell and Webb, and Mr. Hookey.
Continued — Cornwall Chronicle, 21 November 1846
COACH ACCIDENT.— Last night, at Mrs. Cox’s day coach was proceeding along Patterson-street, in the direction of the Cornwall Hotel, the wheel came in contact with a large stone opposite the footpath by Mr, Longhurst’s house. where men have been lately’ employed in repairing the curb. Hewitt, the driver, looked round to see what it was, when in taking the usual sweep at the corner opposite the Post-office, the wheel went into a ditch, and Hewitt was pitched on his head across the road by Mr. Chester the tailor’s. The horses then galloped on at full speed, the reins dangling on their backs, until they cleared Mr. Scott’s corner, and in taking another sweep to get into the stable yard, the coach swerved and capsised, when Whitely, the guard, and Mr. G. L. Taylor (fortunately the only passenger) were thrown over the fence into Trinity Church-yard, but happily neither of them was seriously injured. The horses went off with the pole at their heels towards the Horticultural Gardens, but they were at length secured over the bridge by the Swamp — neither of the horses is much hurt, but the coach’, which is somewhat shattered, has been sent to Mr. Stewart’s for repair. The fence to the church, and part of that enclosing the Horticultural Grounds isb roken down.
Cornwall Chronicle, 19 December 1846
SYMONS V. COX.
This was an appeal by Mrs. Cox, proprietress of the Royal day coach, to and from Hobart Town and Launceston, against a conviction before Messrs. Lewis and Downing, Justices of the Peace, in £5 penalty, for running her coach for hire on the 24th November last, without having renewed her licence. Mr. Montagu appeared for the appellant, and Mr. Brewer for the respondent. The court, after considerable evidence had been gone into, as to the proprietary, and on other matters uninteresting to the public, came to the conclusion that there was not sufficient evidence to show that, on the day named in the information, the 24th November last, Mrs. Cox had no licence. The appeal was allowed, and the conviction quashed.
The Courier, 16 January 1847
TRAVELLING TO LAUNCESTON.- Mrs. Cox, with her accustomed energy in providing accommodation for the public, has started an additional Night coach, for the conveyance of passengers to and from Hobart Town and Launceston, on Mon-day and Thursday nights; we have now consequently conveyances four nights in the week, the mail on Tuesday and Friday, and the new coach above mentioned. We sincerely hope that the public will duly appreciate the spirited exertions of our enterprising proprietress.
Colonial Times, 30 November 1847
FOR SUMS NOT EXCEEDING £10.
Cox v. Solomon.— An action by Mrs. Cox against Mr. David Solomon, of the Longford “Hero,” to recover two pounds for coach fare, and seven and sixpence the value of a bugle horn mouth-piece. The mouth piece was not proved to be goods sold and delivered, and the verdict was for £2 only, being the amount of the coach fare.
Cornwall Chronicle, 25 December 1847
LANGMAID V. COX. This was an action of trover, brought to recover the value of a certain trunk of wearing apparel, the property of the plaintiff. Counsel was engaged on both sides. From the evidence, it appeared that upon a certain day, a trunk directed to Mrs. Hill, of Hobart Town, was brought to the defendant’s booking-office. Shortly afterwards, plaintiff made his appearance, and claimed it as his properly, alleging that Mrs. Mill was merely a suppositions name, adopted for the occasion by his wife. Defendant, however, refused to deliver it without an order from the police magistrate. An application was accordingly made to that gentleman, who, of course, declined all interference in a matter of so much delicacy. Upon this, plaintiff returned once more to Mrs. Cox’s, accompanied by Messrs. Davis and Vanderville. In their presence he again formally demanded his property; he even tore off the direction card and exhibited his own initials in brass nails upon the box. He furthermore offered, in the presence of his witnesses, to fully indemnify Mrs. Cox from the consequences of any future claim- All this, however, proving insufficient to satisfy that lady’s scruples, he was reduced to the necessity of informing her, that the present action would be the result. Plaintiff (by the evidence of his servant) distinctly proved his claim to the box, the latter having repeatedly seen it in his possession. The amount of damages claimed was £10. For the defence, it was urged that coach proprietors in general incurred a heavy responsibility on account of goods entrusted lo their care, end that there was nothing in the evidence to show that Mrs. Hill was, in point of fact, a supposition personage. The box had been duly forwarded, as directed, and throughout the whole business, defendant could not, with a due regard to her own interest, have acted otherwise. The worthy Commissioner appeared, in the first instance, disposed to favour the plaintiff’s claims but the grounds of his opinion being, in consequence, fiercely demanded by defendant’s counsel, the learned gentleman found himself once more in’ a ‘fix.’ A few minutes, passed in profound reflection, served to convince him of his error; it was, of course, instantly renounced, to a verdict for defendant was the consequence. After this, we may truly remark, that were it possible for another ‘Daniel to come to judgment,’ he would cut but a sorry figure, in comparison with our astute and scientific Commissioner.
Cornwall Chronicle, 15 January 1848
The Courier, 12 April 1848
The new coach, built for Mrs. Cox, at Mr. Fraser’s manufactory, was driven about the city to-day, by four fine greys, duly ornamented with ribbons; it proceeded first to the Police-office, to be inspected by the Police Magistrate, in conformity with the provisions of the Act of Council, and was afterwards paraded through our principal streets ,with a good load of amateur passengers, and a guard playing lively tunes upon the key-bugle. We have already described the excellent mechanism of this carriage, which is of the most substantial description.
Colonial Times, 18 April 1848
CONUNDRUM.-Why is Mrs. Cox’s coach like Prince Albert? D’ye give it up?–Because it’s a Royal Mail.
Serious Accident — Town Surveyor’s Department again — On Monday night a serious accident occurred in Wellington street, in consequence of the neglect of the Town Surveyor’s Department. As two gentlemen were driving up Wellington-street, in a gig, it being very dark, when opposite the Colonial Hospital, the horse stumbled into a grip, which had been cut across to the centre of the road, then in process of being lowered, in consequence of which it broke its knees, at the same time throwing out the two gents, one of whom received a severe contusion on the forehead as also a black eye; and it was providential a much more severe injury hid not occurred. Shortly afterwards, Mrs. Cox received an intimation of the dangerous state of the street, and immediately sent two lamps to be placed at the grip, in order to prevent her coach from falling into the same predicament, which no doubt was the means of preserving the lives of the passengers, as well as the coach and horses from receiving injury, as in the morning when passing it had not been cut, consequently the coachman would naturally have driven over the same side on his return.
Cornwall Chronicle, 3 May 1848
THE POST.-The new arrangements made by the Government for the transmission of the mail to and from Launceston is found to work very inconveniently to the mercantile interest. When Mrs. Cox had the contract, a letter bag could be despatched every day by the coaches, although the regular mails were as at present; but now mail communication is restricted to twice a week. The paltry saving of £200 a-year will ill compensate for the loss of the great advantage afforded to the public by Mrs. Cox; and it would be well if some arrangement could now be made with her for transmission of mail on extra post-days; it would in fact be a saving to the revenue, for as mercantile business cannot be detained by government arrangements, of necessity a great amount of communication is now obliged to be kept up by means of paper parcels.
Colonial Times, 13 October 1848
MRS COX’S COACH OFFICE-This establishment pays to Her Majesty’s Government £50116s per annum, for crossing one ferry, and passing one toll-bar !!!
Colonial Times, 31 October 1848
T O L L S
-I am, sir, your obedient servant,
Launceston Examiner, 8 November 1848
On Friday afternoon three men were precipitated into the river as Mrs. Cox’s coach was being punted over; one was unfortunately drowned.
The Courier, 22 November 1848
[The Colonial Time offers a list of events of significance for the year just gone]
Mrs. Cox loses the contract for the transmission of the mail. Mr. Page gets the contract, and occasions great inconvenience to tho inhabitants.
29 December, 1848