The ‘four-in-hand’ horse-drawn coach was built in the 1880s by the Richard Bird Cheverton carriage works at 48/50 Lugley Street, Newport, to the order of Albert Vanner. It could carry up to 16 passengers and was primarily purchased for use on a daily service between Ryde and Newport. The coach also provided a 3-day tour from Ryde on a circuit of the Island, allowing visits to Ventnor, Blackgang and Alum Bay, with overnight stops.
The coach was amongst the possessions belonging to the late Miss Audrey Russell, a descendant of the Vanner family, who bequeathed her estate of Stenbury Manor to English Heritage. English Heritage experts have assessed the coach and carefully considered options for its future.
Michael Hunter, Osborne curator explains:
“The coach is a fantastic piece of the Isle of Wight’s Victorian history, and we know it has a special place in the hearts of local people. While it isn’t part of Osborne’s story, we wanted to find a suitable home for it on the island where it could be seen and appreciated by local people and visitors alike and the Bus and Coach Museum is ideal.”
Brian Dicks, Secretary of the IW Bus Museum, commented:
“The telephone call I received from Michael Hunter was unexpected but welcome news. The gifting of the stagecoach represents a very important piece of local history, as it was both built and then operated in passenger service, entirely on the Island. It will occupy pride of place at the museum, in due course, as the oldest item of public road transport history.”
It is hoped that the coach will go on display when the museum re-opens in April 2017.