Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Recapturing the Gilded Age of Newport, RI

By Kitson

Both photos courtesy of corbettphotography.net for The Preservation Society of Newport County

Check out this very cool New York Times slideshow narrated by the photographer and "cultural anthropologist" Bill Cunningham, documenting this month's "coaching weekend," an event held by the Preservation Society of Newport County in Rhode Island. Dozens of coaching enthusiasts -- along with their teams and their coaches, spend a glorious four days in Newport driving, socializing and dining. 

According to the Preservation Society, 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 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. What a great ride!

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