Park Drag or Private Coach

parkdragSerial No. 1261
F & R Shanks
Circa 1880

Private coaches were first built for some members of the driving clubs that were formed in London early in the nineteenth century, but only a small number were built before the time of the “coaching revival” in the 1860s. The chosen design at that time was based on a larger version of the Royal mail coach of 1835, and coaches made by the leading makers differed only in details. These coaches were used by members of the two London coaching clubs for attending official driving meets. They were also used for driving to race meetings and other sporting occasions.

The coach was built to the order of E.H. Butler of Buffalo, New York, about 1880. Edward Butler was born in 1850 in the village of Le Roy, Genesee County, New York. He became a newspaper proprietor, gaining his first experience with the Le Roy Gazette and other local papers. In 1873, he moved to Buffalo and established The Sunday News. Later he started the Buffalo Evening News. He continued to maintain a house in Le Roy, using it as a summer residence, and it is assumed that the coach was kept there. Mr. Seabrook purchased the coach from William C. Faugh, Jr., of Sky Acres Ranch, Rochester, in March, 1954. It was repainted by Tom Shelton in 1990.

F & R Shanks was one of the two most successful builders of park drags (private coaches) and road coaches in Britain after the “Coaching Revival” of the 1860s. The other firm was Holland & Holland of North Row, Grosvenor Square, and the choice between coaches made by either of these two was said to be merely a matter of personal preference.

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