We will remember them: Pickfords and the Great War

This weekend, as the country commemorates the end of the hostilities of World War I, we are reminded of the realities of wartime, an inseparable part of Pickfords’ history.

The First World War

The Great War changed the way people and businesses went about their daily lives, as people and companies were deployed to help the war effort. By 1915, most of Pickfords’ resources were requisitioned. Like the London buses, Pickfords vehicles carried the materials of war, as well as troops to the front in France.

The Second World War

Pickfords was again very active during the Second World War. The company sent its lighters (flat bottomed barges) between Solent ports and the Isle of Wight to join the Little Ships that made their way across the Channel to evacuate the beaches at Dunkirk.

The company also helped transport temporary portable harbours, called Mulberry harbours, from throughout the UK to the South Coast in advance of D-Day. The harbours were then shipped across the Channel and rebuilt off the D-Day beaches to allow the Allies to land supplies before they captured one of the Normandy Ports.

This weekend we remember all those who have died as a result of wars, both modern and historic. Let us never forget the sacrifices made by so many.

Where did it all start? The story of Pickfords

Pickfords has launched a new, interactive section of the website.

The digital timeline chronicles the history of the brand, from its earliest days as a carrier in the 1600s to the present day.

The history section was a year in the making and followed research from the Pickfords archive of historical documents, from existing transport books and conversations with current and previous Pickfords colleagues, some of whom spent as long as fifty years with the company. The marketing team even tracked down the original designer of Pickfords Travel leaflets to feature in the 1980s section.  

Marketing Director Lyndsey Wallbank said

Previous accounts of Pickfords’ history focused heavily on transport methods. We wanted to create a timeline that also featured the moments in history which impacted the company and the people who have influenced the direction of the brand through the centuries.”

The digital history experience features a timeline with richly designed imagery together with easy to read snippets of information. The journey through time includes Pickfords’ invention of the Fly wagon in the 17th century, a brush with Jack the Ripper and the year Pickfords specialised in elephant removals for Billy Butlin.

The contribution Pickfords made to the two world wars, when resources were requisitioned for the war effort, and the denationalisation of the company by Margaret Thatcher in 1985, are also detailed.

Managing Director Russell Start said

“We are delighted with the project, and hope this new section of the website brings the Pickfords story to life for customers, employees and transport enthusiasts alike.”

A simpler time: Pickfords in the 1930s

With a near-400 year history, Pickfords is fondly remembered by our customers throughout the decades. One customer recently contacted us to share a happy memory of Pickfords’ advertising in the 1930s, when Britain was enduring the Great Depression and on the brink of the Second World War:

A note from you

A call from us

The date is fixed

No worry or fuss

A Pickfords van

A gentle giant

The work is done

A satisfied client

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A letter from a customer shared her fond memory of Pickfords advertising in the 1930s.

Discovered: a piece of Pickfords history

Kind thanks to Barry Marriott from Sway, Hampshire for sharing a fascinating piece of Pickfords history.

E13 Pickford 2 00000 - CopyMr. Marriott, a keen collector of pre-1840 letters, sent in a copy of a missive penned by one ‘C Weaver’ to Thomas Pickford, the last Pickford to service the company, dated 22nd December 1836.

The letter makes mention of the Baxendales, a family who took over running the company from the Pickfords in the early 1800s, rebuilding the institution after troubled times following the end of the Napoleonic Wars.

E13 Pickford 1 00000 - CopyThe letter also discusses an unfortunate illness affecting the Pickford family at the time, giving an insight into the tough conditions of the era.

Another fascinating nugget from Pickfords’ rich history.

Has the identity of Jack the Ripper been revealed?

An interesting reference to Pickfords’ long history can be found in the Telegraph this week.

The world has speculated on the identity of the notorious murderer, Jack the Ripper for over 100 years. The perpetrator of the grizzly murders in London’s east end at the end of the century, was never caught. On the 100 year anniversary of the first murder, authors Christer Holmgren and Edward Stow have put forward the theory that Jack could have been a cart man, (a modern day driver or porter or removals man) who was found at the scene of the first murder. It is noted in the official evidence that the cart man, Charles Cross was on his way to Pickfords’ depot in Broad Street at about 3am, when he found the mutilated body of Polly Nichols – so he could have worked for Pickfords at the time. ( Branches must have opened later in those days!). Although found at the scene, Cross did not seem to come under much interrogation from the police at the time, though it is noted be provided a false name.

An interesting theory, though there have been many suggestions for the culprit over the last one hundred years including Prince Albert Victor, the grandson of Queen Victoria, and Sir William Gull, the Queen’s doctor.

A fascinating article below

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9512928/Was-Jack-the-Ripper-a-cart-driver-from-Bethnal-Green.html