Fast mail coaches were introduced in 1784, with recognized mail routes coming into existence soon afterwards. Stage and mail coaches were alike in build, carrying four inside passengers and ten or twelve outsides. Mail bags were piled high on the roof and luggage was stowed in large receptables called "boots" at either end of the vehicle. There was an extra charge for the box seat next to the coachman, as this was considered to be a desirable place, especially for those interested in horseflesh and driving. Mail coaches, which were subsidized by the Post Office, were uniformly painted, the lower part of the body being chocolate or mauve; the upper part, the fore and hind boots painted black; the wheels and under carriage a vivid scarlet. The Royal Arms were emblazoned n the doors, the Royal cipher in gold upon the fore boot and the number of the vehicle on the hind boot.
The departure of the Mails was one of the most exciting sights in London. On its' outward journey, each coach collected passengers from whatever inn the vehicle was horsed at, and then dashed round at 8 p.m. to the post office in St. Martin's le Grand to collect the mail. Coaches were called by name to receive their bags and the crash of the lid of the boot being locked down on the special mails was the signal for each coach to speed away. Fast Stage and Mail coaches made their journeys at about the same speed. It took 5 hours to Brighton, 17 to Exeter and 21 to Liverpool. This worked out to an average speed of ten miles per hour. The change of horses at each fresh stage was made quickly. Hostlers and stable boys were allowed a minute in which to take out the old horses and harness up a fresh team, though some could manage the job in 50 seconds!