The Preservation Society thanks everyone involved in making the 2018 Weekend of Coaching such a success. We are especially grateful to the police and fire departments in the City of Newport, and to the Middletown and Portsmouth police departments for their operational and logistical support, helping to ensure that the beautiful horse-drawn coaches and their passengers were able to safely negotiate through their communities. To the estimated 3,000 people who enjoyed the coaching skills exhibition at The Elms on Saturday, August 18, and the many more who lined the streets each day to applaud the coaches and their teams as they passed, we also say thank you for providing such a warm greeting to our guests. Your enthusiasm is one of the reasons the members of The Coaching Club tell us their Newport meet every three years is the one they look forward to the most.
See you in 2021!
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.
The Elms Driving Exhibition
On Saturday morning of Coaching Weekend there is a free-to-the-public driving exhibition on the grounds of The Elms, beginning at approximately 10:30 a.m. This is an opportunity to get a close up, extended look at each of the teams, and to hear details about the horses and the history of each coach as their whips guide them around the back lawn. The colorful event also includes a friendly horn-blowing competition.
Please note: Dogs are not permitted on the grounds, except for certified service animals. There will be no parking at The Elms during the exhibition.
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.