Coach Travel in Blacktown
Horses were the main means of transport for a long time in the Blacktown area. By the time the railway reached Blacktown in 1860, stage coaches had been operating in the area for more than 30 years. Regular coach services were run between Sydney and Penrith by the 1820s. Early attempts to introduce a service to Windsor failed because of the road's deplorable condition.
Possibly a butcher's cart in 1916
However, by 1831, a daily mail service was operating between Windsor and Sydney, with four changes of horses being made including one at John Booth's Rouse Hill Hotel. The following year a new "patent safety coach with accommodation for 15 passengers who are much sheltered from the weather" began operations.
Extension of the railway to Richmond in 1864 brought an end to the service because the trip was reduced from five to two hours.
Rivalry between coach services was intense. Writing for the Cumberland Argus in 1911 historian William Freame recalled an incident when two rival coaches left the Fox Under the Hill staging post and inn at Prospect at the same time and a race quickly developed.
Taking the family out
"Down they came, full gallop, the horses urged on by the drivers' whips and the cries of their passengers who were yelling out their cries of derision. The coaches were seen swaying from side to side when Kendall's driver began to press the other fellow over toward the edge". Fortunately, a terrible accident was narrowly averted.
"When the coaches pulled up at Fullagar's Hotel, the dastardly coward who tried to wreck his rival was buffeted and had his nose pulled in the presence or 40 people who gave him fits".
Although motor vehicles gradually replaced the horse in urban areas, Blacktown still had a blacksmith. Horse and cart deliveries were made for milk, bread and meat. Although the old butchers' carts ceased, operations around 1940 bread carts were still used until the early 1960s.
Bus and Taxi Services in Blacktown
Following on from the days of the horse-drawn vehicles, we look at some of the early bus and taxi services in the area.
The forerunner to the taxi driver was the motor vehicle proprietor. The first driver to set up business in Blacktown was Mr John Miller, who began his hire car service in 1920 driving a T-Model Ford.
By l926, Miller had been joined by Ernest Burr and Frank Raglus. They would wait at Blacktown railway station for passengers.
Other hire cars were also operating from Rooty Hill and Plumpton by then. The few existing roads were fairly rough, especially after wet weather.
Bull's Motor Bus - a social outing in the 1930s
Mr Miller later went into business with Bill Potter to open Blacktown's first garage in Blacktown Rd. The garage later moved to opposite the railway station. Unlike the single brand service stations today, Potter's sold a variety of petrol including Caltex, Shell, PIume and Atlantic. Before Blacktown had a garage, long-time resident Jim Simpson, now in his 90s, can remember having to go to Granville to buy petrol by the case.
One of the first bus services was operated by Mr Bull around 1930. The service ran from Blacktown to Parklea. Later, the Rosers and then Rowes began operating in the district.