Prosperity came from the town’s many inns catering for travellers on the main London to Bristol road.
Chief among them from 1456 to 1730 was the Hart (Old Hart) on the north side of the High Street. Coach trade exploded in the early 18th century with the development of Bath and to a lesser extent Marlborough itself. Principal inns on the south side were the Angel, the Black Swan and the Duke’s Arms (pre 1843 known as the Ailesbury arms). On the north side there was the Castle & Ball. In 1797 coaches ran daily from the Duke’s Arms and the Black Swan to London and Bath, three each way from the Castle daily and one each way from the Castle & Ball on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Nightly mail coaches ran to London and daily coaches to Exeter. There was a daily service in 1833 from the principal inns to London, Bath, Bristol, Cheltenham, Frome and Reading. Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s Great Western Railway line from London – Bristol was opened in 1841 and damaged the coaching trade. In 1844 only three coaches a day ran to London, and one to Bath and Bristol.