The history of Pickfords

The history of the Pickfords brand spans nearly 400 years, beginning in the United Kingdom.

The early years

  • 1646: Thomas Pickford named in public records using packhorses to carry goods in Cheshire, England.
  • 1720: Pickfords reaches London; James Pickford pioneers transport by wagon.
  • 1768: Martha, Matthew and Thomas Pickford take over the company and invent the faster, lighter ‘fly wagon’ for long distance travel.
  • By 1803, Pickfords had built its own canal connected facilities.
  • 1817: Massive cargo tolls cause the Pickford family to withdraw from the company.

 The Baxendale years

  • 1817: Joseph Baxendale acquires Pickfords, embracing the emerging railway network.
  • By 1829 Baxendale, had restored the company to its former glory.
  • 1872: Baxendale dies age 84, leaving the company to his sons.
  • 1888: Pickfords cart man Charles Cross becomes a suspect in the famous, unsolved, Jack the Ripper murders.
  • 1932: L H Baxendale, the last of Joseph’s family to serve the company, resigns.

The Twentieth Century

  • 1905: Pickfords becomes one of the first carriers to use motor vehicles.
  • 1907: Pickfords’ Heavy Haulage division established.
  • 1910: Pickfords enters the travel business, running “Seeing Britain” tours to Devon, Cornwall and later the Continent.
  • 1914: The Great War: Pickfords’ resources were requisitioned for use in the war effort.
  • By 1918, the company’s national fleet included 1,900 horse vehicles, 1,580 horses and 46 motor vehicles.
  • 1940: World War II: Pickfords aids the evacuation of Dunkirk.
  • 1957: Pickfords transports a famous elephant named Charlie from Ayr, Scotland to Yorkshire, Northern England.
  • 1982: As part of the government-owned National Freight Consortium (NFC), British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher announces Pickfords’ denationalization.

The modern era

  • 1988: NFC acquires the USA’s largest moving network, Allied Van Lines.
  • By 1989, Pickfords is the largest moving company in the world.
  • 1999: Pickfords is acquired by American company Clayton, Dubilier & Rice, becoming part of SIRVA Inc.
  • 2008: SIRVA experiences difficulties during the US recession and sells Pickfords to Yogesh Mehta.
  • 2011: Pickfords’ moving crew star in two series of Channel 5’s ‘The Removal Men’ television documentary.
  • 2013: Pickford is voted Best International Moving Company by the Forum for Expatriate Management.
  • 2014: Pickfords is appointed logistics provider to The Paddington Trail in London; the event raises £930,000 for national children’s charity the NSPCC.
  • 2015: Pickfords opens its first international office in Sweden.

Pickfords Canada

  • 2015: Pickfords opens its doors in Canada, the company’s first office outside Europe. Pickfords Move Management Ltdbrings together the rich history of Pickfords in the UK with nearly 50 years’ combined local experience to deliver expert moving and storage services to Canada.

Click here to find out more about the modern Pickfords brand in Canada.

Our CSR approach
Our CSR approach

CSR is important to us. Discover how Pickfords ensure we treat both people and the environment ethically and responsibly.

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