Before the 18th century, coach travel was deeply uncomfortable, even in fine weather (and often impossible in heavy rain). The vehicles were little better than covered wagons and without suspension, travelling at around five miles an hour, bumping over the rutted tracks and unmade roads. Speed improved in the mid-18th century with the invention of steel spring suspension, which was also probably more comfortable.
The proliferation of ale-houses – a house in Church Street was still a stop-over in the late 19th century when it was called The Traveller’s Rest – is partly attributable to the unreliable quality of the drinking water. Many people, including children, would drink small ale, which was weak and rather bitter, but with its alcoholic content was safer than water.