August 16-19, 2018
Authentic 19th century coaches drawn by matched and highly-trained teams of horses visit Newport every three years for a Weekend of Coaching, hosted by The Preservation Society of Newport County.
The public can 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 on the grounds of The Elms on Saturday, August 18, as well as a formal Dinner Dance at The Breakers that evening. Tickets for the dinner dance are now on sale.
The Breakers Stable & Carriage House houses some of the horses, and is closed to public tours from August 13-20. Additional horses and carriages are housed in temporary stables at Chateau-sur-Mer. Learn more about the history of The Breakers Stable and one of the most famous coaches in history, Alfred Vanderbilt's Venture.
History of Coaching
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.