A Weekend of Coaching Returns to Newport, August 16-19

Authentic 19th century coaches drawn by matched and highly-trained teams of horses will return to Newport from August 16-19, 2012, in the triennial renewal of a Weekend of Coaching, hosted by The Preservation Society of Newport County. A gala dinner-dance in honor of the whips will be held at The Breakers © 2012 Karen Rubin/news-photos-features.com.

Authentic 19th century coaches drawn by matched and highly-trained teams of horses will return to Newport from August 16-19, 2012, in the triennial renewal of a Weekend of Coaching, hosted by The Preservation Society of Newport County. The public will 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.

“This is one of our favorite events because it is so unique and so much fun,” said Preservation Society CEO & Executive Director Trudy Coxe.” “We are very grateful to the members of the Coaching Club for staging this event in Newport again, and for making the Preservation Society the beneficiary of their fundraising efforts.”

The drivers, or “whips” as they are referred to in the sport of coaching, who are expected to attend are: Mr. S. Tucker Johnson, of Hobe Sound, Florida, President of the Coaching Club; Dr. Timothy J. Butterfield, of Derry, New Hampshire; Frederick E. Eayrs, of Middleboro, Massachusetts; Walter F. Eayrs, of Bristol, Rhode Island; Howard Fafard, of Framingham, Massachusetts; John Frazier Hunt, of Spring City, Pennsylvania; Herbert Kohler, of Kohler, Wisconsin; James Mather Miller, of Lakewood Ranch, Florida; Sir Paul & Lady Sarah Nicholson, of Durham, United Kingdom; Louis G. Piancone, of Gladstone, New Jersey; Claire Reid, of Southern Pines, North Carolina; Sir John Richards, of Cheshire, United Kingdom; Harvey W. Waller, of Stockbridge, Massachusetts; George A. Weymouth, of Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania; and John White, of Newton, New Jersey.

The routes of the daily drives will be published in the local press and the Preservation Society’s website (www.NewportMansions.org), along with suggested viewing spots. In addition, there will be a free-to-the-public driving exhibition on the grounds of The Elms starting at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday morning, August 18. The weekend will culminate with a formal Coaching Dinner Dance at The Breakers on Saturday evening.

The Honorary Chairs of A Weekend of Coaching are Mr. & Mrs. A. L. Ballard. David E.P. Lindh is the Chair, and Kenneth M.P. Lindh the Vice-Chair of the Weekend. Frederick E. Eayrs is Vice-Chair of Coaching.

The Chairs of the Coaching Dinner Dance are Mrs. Mark (Leslie) Hull; Mrs. David E.P. (Lynda) Lindh; Mrs. Kenneth M.P. (Elaine) Lindh; Mrs. David J. (Beverly) Little; Gladys V. Szápáry; and Mrs. Guy F.C. (Mary) Van Pelt.

Tickets for the dinner-dance in honor of the whips at The Breakers are $450 per person, and reservations are required. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.NewportMansions.org, email Events@NewportMansions.org, or call (401) 847-1000 ext. 140.

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.

The Preservation Society of Newport County, Rhode Island is a non-profit educational organization accredited by the American Association of Museums and dedicated to preserving and interpreting the area’s historic architecture, landscapes and decorative arts. Its 11 historic properties—seven of them National Historic Landmarks—span more than 250 years of American architectural and social development.

For more information, call 401-847-1000 or visit www.NewportMansions.org.

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