In 1783, the highwayman and footpad John Austin was found guilty and sentenced to death for murdering labourer John Spicer from Kent. He was brought from Newgate Prison to the Tyburn gallows (close to where Marble Arch now stands) by cart, a journey of two-and-a-half miles that took three hours.
The journey that convicted criminals took included stops at St Sepulchre-Without-Newgate church and two public houses. The convicted man was returned to the cart after having finished his last drink at the second pub, and his feet would not touch the ground again: once he got to Tyburn he was hanged from the cart he had ridden there. This is why we say someone is ‘on the wagon’ when they have stopped drinking.
Austin’s hanging was the last on this spot. After that day, executions were carried out just outside Newgate Prison, ending Tyburn’s brutal 600-year tradition.