FORUM 2000: We have had some fascinating mornings with Eric Houlder. Coaching Memories on April 8 evoked the romance of Jane Austen or Georgette Heyer but in fact the reality of coaching days was more hard work and exhaustion than romance. He explained that with the dawn of the industrial revolution businessmen needed to travel and improvements in roads made this possible. Speed was of the essence in coaching and Eric described drivers, guards, post boys and frequent inns for changing horses. The advantage of linking coaches with delivery of mail led to Royal Mail coaches. These were glamorous equipages with matching horses, 40 of which were needed to go to York. There was a locked boot under the guard’s seat for mail and under the driver for luggage and parcels. It took four days of continuous travelling to get to York. The passengers alighting could choose the loo or the meal but time did not permit both. Other vehicles, however, also used the new roads: huge lumbering carts for parcels and large pieces and furniture and hired carriages – post chaises – which more-prosperous people used. Eric’s pictures, and sounds of post horns, told the story – there was the bandy-legged post boys, guards with their stove-pipe hats and all the colour and comedy of the interesting men who made stage-coach travel possible. The second part of the talk showed the coaching inns on The Great North Road, some of them still there and others sadly demolished. It was another tour de force for Eric Houlder. The forum’s next meeting is on April 30 with Roger Dedman and The Rise of the Post Office. Forum 2000 meets on Wednesdays at 10am in The Grove Centre, New Street, Horsforth. LS18 4BH. Everyone is welcome. Contact (0113) 2583521.