Pickfords' company history

The company history of Pickfords 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 under James Pickford, who pioneered transport by wagon.
  • 1768: Martha, Matthew and Thomas Pickford take over the business and invent the faster, lighter ‘fly wagon’ for long distance travel.
  • 1803: By this time, the company had built its own canal connected facilities.
  • 1817: Enormous cargo tolls cause the Pickford family to withdraw from the company. 

The Baxendale years

  • 1817: Pickfords acquired by Joseph Baxendale and embraced the emerging railway network.
  • 1829: By this time, Baxendale had restored Pickfords to its former glory.
  • 1872: Baxendale dies aged 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 resigns, the last of Joseph’s family to serve the company.

The Twentieth Century

  • 1905: Pickfords become one of the first carriers to use motor vehicles.
  • 1907: Pickfords’ Heavy Haulage division is established.
  • 1910: Pickfords enters the travel business, running “Seeing Britain” tours to Devon, Cornwall and later the Continent.
  • 1914: Pickfords’ resources were requisitioned for use in The Great War.
  • 1918: By this time, Pickfords’ national fleet included 1,580 horses, 1,900 horse vehicles and 46 motor vehicles.
  • 1940: Pickfords aids the evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II.
  • 1957: Pickfords transports Charlie the elephant 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 Allied Van Lines, the USA’s largest removal network.
  • 1989: Pickfords becomes the largest moving company in the world.
  • 1999: Pickfords acquired by American company Clayton, Dubilier & Rice and became part of SIRVA Inc.
  • 2008: SIRVA experiences difficulties during the US recession and sells Pickfords to Yogesh Mehta.
  • 2011: Pickfords’ removal men star in two series of Channel 5’s ‘The Removal Men’ documentary.
  • 2013: Pickfords voted Best International Moving Company by the Forum for Expatriate Management
  • 2014: Pickfords appointed logistics provider to The Paddington Trail; the event raises £930,000 for national children’s charity the NSPCC.

Pickfords Sweden

  • 2015: Pickfords opens its first international office in Sweden. Pickfords Move Management AB brings together the rich history of Pickfords in the UK with nearly 50 years of combined local experience to deliver expert removals and storage services to Sweden.
Did you know history
Did you know?

Pickfords cart man Charles Cross was a suspect in the famous London Jack the Ripper murders in 1888!

Charles was never charged and the Ripper's identity remains a mystery to this day.

More about Pickfords' history