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Our History

The History of Windsor Carriages

History of Windsor

The story of horse-drawn carriages and their special place in England's transportation history dates back to 1649 when they were first licensed as hackney carriages. This intriguing tradition continues to this day, notably represented by the iconic black motor cabs, a familiar sight in London and major UK cities.

In the mid 1800's, an interesting shift occurred when the famed Long Walk ceased to be a primary route for public and trade vehicles. It's essential to note that this change took place before the era of motor cars, so these vehicles were exclusively horse-drawn carriages. However, a unique twist in the tale unfolded during Queen Victoria's reign when the Crown Estate granted special permission for hackney carriages to continue using the state entrance for taxi services.

 

Even today, The Long Walk and the vast Windsor Great Park remain off-limits to commercial and private vehicles. The Long Walk itself is exclusively open to visitors on foot. Remarkably, more than 175 years later, Windsor Carriages operates under the same hackney carriage license that originated during the Victorian era.

 

This makes us the last licensed hackney carriage operation in the entire UK, carrying forward a fascinating tradition that has stood the test of time.

A heritage legacy deeply rooted in history, with a mission to restore historic carriages, educate on driving traditions, and perpetuate this esteemed service. Join us on a journey along The Long Walk to Windsor Castle.

Respect for tradition is at the core of Windsor Carriages. We place great emphasis on heritage and continuity. In keeping with this enduring tradition, passed down through generations, our aim is to preserve age-old customs and knowledge, fostering a shared history and enduring connection. We offer experiences from the bygone Victorian era, providing tranquility, relaxation, and a profound connection within the majestic backdrop of Windsor Castle.

The revival and preservation of historical ways of life and work are the essence of our mission, as we aim to uphold the significance of commercial carriage driving as a cherished trade within the United Kingdom. This commitment extends to supporting the skilled craftsmen and women contributing to this trade, including wheelwrights and harness makers. We maintain and restore these vehicles traditionally to offer an experience reminiscent of the past, dating back over 175 years. While we prioritize authenticity, we've also made enhancements for all-weather protection, a smoother ride, and improved safety with lower, wider steps. 

 

As the operator of the United Kingdom's oldest horse-drawn hackney carriage license, Windsor Carriages is resolute in safeguarding our enduring legacy, which traces its roots back to the Victorian era. We take great pride in our dedication to conducting educational visits for local schools and groups. These special events provide us with the opportunity to not only showcase our treasured collection of artifacts but also unveil the intricate tapestry of history interwoven into our operation. These artifacts are currently on display at the Windsor and Eton Museum, conveniently located within the Windsor Guildhall.

 

At Windsor Carriages, our philanthropic and charitable endeavors are of paramount importance. We wholeheartedly embrace our role as a stalwart pillar of the community, and our dedication to supporting local charities, such as the Windsor Food Bank and The Alexander Devine Children's Hospice. In our storied history, we proudly stand as the community's fourth oldest attraction, revered alongside Windsor Castle, The Great Park, and the majestic River Thames.

In Loving Memory, John Seear, Windsor Coachman 1939 - 2016

Let me share with you a story of timeless tradition and dedication that has kept the legacy of hackney carriages alive and thriving since 1849. It is the reign of each coachman, as they pass down the cherished Victorian-era hackney carriage license from one generation to the next, that has maintained the continuity of this remarkable tradition.

The legacy you have the privilege to witness today is a testament to the enduring devotion of a remarkable figure in Windsor's history, the venerable Windsor Coachman John Seear. For more than five decades, he graced The Long Walk with the clip-clop of his horse-drawn carriages. John's passion for carriage driving was unwavering, and he made a steadfast decision not to transition the license from carriage to motor car, an act that set him and his legacy apart and is the very reason we continue to operate to this day.

John's legacy and a love for tradition, has been passed down through the generations. In the twilight of his years, his daughter, Rebecca, (The Coachman's Daughter) returned to the carriages, to work alongside her father just as she did during her childhood and continues the business you see today. We hold a profound sense of honor as stewards of this extraordinary tradition, one that continues to capture the hearts of all who have the privilege of encountering it.

John Seear Coachman
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