Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Carriage (Low Latin, carriagium, from carica, load), literally, any vehicle possessed of wheels that can be used for the transport by land of goods or persons. In a more restricted sense, and that in which it is mostly used, the word signifies a four-wheeled vehicle impelled by animal power. In the wider sense wheeled vehicles seem to have been used for purposes of war, and at a later period for racing, and afterwards for domestic purposes. It was not till a much later period that they seem to have been commonly used as an article of luxury. Taking the narrower sense, the four-wheeled vehicle, when used for agricultural purposes or for the transport of goods, bears the generic name of waggon, of which there are many species, and when used for personal transport it bears the generic name of carriage, of which there are even more species than of the waggon. The carriage seems not to have been introduced into England before the year 1555, and a few years afterwards a lumbering vehicle without springs did duty as Queen Elizabeth's coach. One reason for the tardy introduction of carriages into England was the almost entire absence of roads in our modern sense of the word. The main roads were in that day in worse condition than some of the green lanes and byways that are still to be met with in some of the out-of-the-way parts of Sussex and some other counties. Even as late as last century we read of a king and queen taking two days for a carriage progress from Kew to London, and even then getting overturned into the mire upon the way. One great differentiating feature of the carriage is that the shafts or other means of attaching the horse or horses are not rigidly fastened to the body of the vehicle. The first great improvement in the construction of the carriage was the separation of the body from the framework to which the wheels belonged, and the consequent reduction of jolting. This was first effected by suspending the body from leather straps, a system which may be seen in the Lord Mayor's state coach, and in old family coaches. From that the transition was easy to the C springs, and to the elliptic springs in use at the present day. Improvements are constantly being made, especially in Great Britain and America, and carriage building has now become a highly complicated and specialised trade. A walk through the carriage factories of Long Acre, London, is not without interest to those who can find pleasure in considering the ingenuity which has been applied to the surmounting of various difficulties.