Charles George Harper (1863 – 1943) was an English author and illustrator. Born in London, England, Harper wrote many self-illustrated travel books, exploring the regions, roads, coastlines, literary connections, old inns etc. of Britain. In later life, he lived in Petersham.
“HANG up my old whip over the fireplace,” said Harry Littler, of the Southampton “Telegraph,” when the London and Southampton Railway was opened, in 1833,—“I shan’t want it never no more”: and he fell ill, turned his face to the wall, and died.
The end of the coaching age was a tragedy for the coachmen; and even to many others, whose careers and livelihood were not bound up with the old order of things, it was a bitter uprooting of established customs. Many travellers were never reconciled to railways, and in imagination dwelt fondly in the old days of the road for the rest of their lives; while many more never ceased to recount stories of the peculiar glory and exhilaration of old-time travel, forgetting the miseries and inconveniences that formed part of it. But although reminiscent oldsters have talked much about those vanished times, they have rarely attempted a consecutive story of them. Such an attempt is that essayed in these pages, confined within the compass of two volumes, not because material for a third was lacking, but simply for sake of expediency. Itviii is shown in the body of this book, and may be noted again in this place, that the task of writing anything in the nature of a History of Coaching is rendered exceeding difficult by reason of the disappearance of most of the documentary evidence on which it should be based; but I have been fortunate enough to secure the aid of Mr. Joseph Baxendale in respect of the history of Pickford & Co., of Mr. William Chaplin, grandson of the great coach-proprietor, and of Mr. Benjamin Worthy Horne, grandson of Chaplin’s partner, for information concerning their respective families. Colonel Edmund Palmer, also, communicated interesting notes on his grandfather, John Palmer, the founder of the mail-coach system. To my courteous friend, Mr. W. H. Duignan, of Walsall, whose own recollections of coaching, and whose collections of coaching prints and notes I have largely used, this acknowledgment is due. Mr. J. B. Muir, of 35, Wardour Street, my obliging friend of years past, has granted extensive use of his collection of sporting pictures, and Messrs. Arthur Ackermann & Son, of 191, Regent Street, have lent prints and pictures from their establishment.
CHARLES G. HARPER.