Transport back to the 19th century as authentic horse-drawn coaches parade through the streets of Newport and the grounds of the Newport Mansions Thursday, August 16 - Sunday, August 19 for the triennial renewal of a Weekend of Coaching, hosted by The Preservation Society of Newport County.
FREE DRIVING EXHIBITION
On Saturday, August 18, head to The Elms for a free driving exhibition on the back lawn at 10:30 AM, sponsored by BankNewport. Get an up-close look at each of the teams while learning the history of each coach as their whips guide them around the back lawn.
COACHING DINNER DANCE
The weekend will culminate with a formal Coaching Dinner Dance at The Breakers on Saturday evening. Details to follow.
Each day from Thursday, August 16 through Sunday, August 19, the visiting whips will drive their coaches on a different route through Newport as they travel to private social events, much as their 19th century predecessors did on a daily basis.
THE TRADITION OF COACHING
The tradition of coaching grew out of the 18th and 19th century mail runs in England, which later made their way across the Atlantic to the United States. The horse-drawn mail coaches were eventually replaced by railroads, but nostalgia led to the development of coaching as a sport. The Coaching Club of New York was formed in the latter part of the 19th century, eventually becoming part of the social fabric of Newport in the summer. The Wetmores, the Bells, the Vanderbilts and the Belmonts were all active members, bringing their coaches together to go to the races, the polo games, and the Casino.
The two types of open-air vehicles used in the sport of coaching—a Road Coach and the slightly smaller Park Drag—employ a team of four horses. All seating is outside, with the driver, known as a "whip," sitting in the slightly elevated right front seat, and the whip’s wife or female relative taking up the “box seat” on the left. The rear bench of the coach holds at least two specialized footmen called grooms. Two center benches can hold up to 10 passengers.
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