Authentic 19th-century coaches drawn by highly-trained teams of horses will return to Newport from August 16-19, 2018, in the triennial renewal of a Weekend of Coaching, hosted by The Preservation Society of Newport County. The public will enjoy free viewing of the colorful and historic coaches every day, as they drive through the streets of Newport and the grounds of the Newport Mansions, celebrating and preserving a century-old sporting tradition. In addition, there will be a free-to-the-public driving exhibition, sponsored by BankNewport, on the grounds of The Elms starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, August 18. The weekend will culminate with a formal Coaching Dinner Dance at The Breakers on Saturday evening.
“We are very grateful to the members of the Coaching Club, who honor Newport and the Preservation Society with their visit every three years,” said Preservation Society CEO & Executive Director Trudy Coxe. “This event give us an opportunity feel the spirit of life in the Gilded Age, when coaching was not only a mode of transportation but a social and sporting activity.”
The “whips” (as the drivers are referred to in the sport of coaching) who are expected to attend are: Dr. Timothy J. Butterfield, of Derry, New Hampshire; Mr. Frederick E. Eayrs, Jr., of Middleboro, Massachusetts; Mr. Walter F. Eayrs, of Mapleville, Rhode Island; Mr. William G. Ginns, of Skeffington, Leicester, United Kingdom; Mr. John Frazier Hunt, of Spring City, Pennsylvania; Mr. Herbert Kohler, of Kohler, Wisconsin; Mr. Charles T. Matheson of Middleburg, Virginia; Mr. James Mather Miller and Mrs. Misdee Miller, of Sarasota, Florida; Mr. William R. Staples of the Plains, Virginia; Mr. Harvey W. Waller, of Stockbridge, Massachusetts; Mr. John White, of Newton, New Jersey; Mrs. Gloria Austin, of Weirsdale, Florida; and Dr. Rae Fischer of Ontario, Canada.
The routes of the daily drives and other details are available at the Preservation Society’s website (www.NewportMansions.org).
The Honorary Chair of A Weekend of Coaching is Mrs. David E. P. (Lynda) Lindh. Mr. Kenneth M. P. Lindh and Mrs. David J. (Beverly) Little are Co-Chairs of the Weekend. Mr. Frederick E. Eayrs is Chair of Coaching.
The Chairs of the Coaching Dinner Dance are Mrs. David B. (Pamela) Ford; Mrs. Kenneth M.P. (Elaine) Lindh; Mrs. David J. (Beverly) Little; Mrs. Brian (Pamela) Ross Owens; Ms. Daisy Prince; and Mrs. Guy F.C. (Mary) Van Pelt.
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.
The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island, is a non-profit organization accredited by the American Alliance of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes, decorative arts and social history. Its 11 historic properties–seven of them National Historic Landmarks–span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.