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


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


Pickfords searches for origin of historic photograph

Pickfords horse and cart in front of Terra Nova

Removals and storage giant Pickfords is appealing for help to identify the origins of a black and white image linking the firm to the world famous ship, Terra Nova. 

Discovered in the centenary year of Captain Robert Falcon Scott’s ill-fated expedition to the Antarctic, the black and white image apparently shows a Pickfords horse and cart delivering Shell motor spirit to the ship, which is best known for sailing under the command of Captain Scott on his mission to be the first to reach the South Pole. 

The photograph was found on a website and used as part of a presentation for a removals industry conference, however, it was only after the presentation took place that name on the ship was recognised. Despite extensive searches to find where the image was sourced, Pickfords has no idea which website the photograph came from. 

Following the find, Pickfords teamed up with the International Polar Foundation and has since embarked on a rollercoaster search to find the origins of the image. 

Michael Andrews, Area Manager for Pickfords, explains: “At first we thought the image might have been taken just before Scott’s famous British Antarctic Expedition sailed in 1910, but lengthy conversations with archivists at Shell UK, the International Polar Foundation and the Scott Polar Research Institute failed to find any evidence to support our theories.”

 Dr Liz Pasteur from the International Polar Foundation takes up the story: “After we drew a blank with the most famous of Terra Nova’s commissions, we started looking a little further afield. After speaking to Terra Nova expert and author Mike Tarver, we were informed that the ship’s name, just about visible in the picture, was not on the hull by the time it was purchased by Scott in 1909, so the photo must have been taken some time before then. 

“From what Mike has told us, the most plausible explanation is that the photo was taken at London’s West India Docks in 1905 as the ship prepared to sail on a rescue mission to reach members of the failed Ziegler polar expedition. The US party was stranded north of the Arctic Circle for two years after attempting to reach the North Pole.”

Michael continues: “After speaking to Mike our investigations have led us as far afield as the US descendant of one the Ziegler party and to the Norwegian Polar Institute, but no one can confirm when or where the image was taken; it’s a complete mystery. We’ve run out of leads, so we’re throwing it open to the public to see if we can shed any more light on one of the most interesting periods in Pickfords’ history.

Pickfords has been working closely with the International Polar Foundation throughout 2011 to transport adapted teaching tools and educational puzzles to UK schools learning about the importance of the Polar Regions and climate change.

 If anyone has any information on the origins or background of the photograph, they are urged to contact Lyndsey Daykin at Pickfords on 0203 188 2248

Pickfords’ Salisbury branch in the early 1900s

This week, Sue Piper sent us a marvellous photo of her Grandfather Frank Harfitt, who used to work for Pickfords in the early 1900s.

This heirloom was found by his grand daughter Sue, who sent it to Pickfords so we could look back in history and remember our ‘Salisbury’ branch , way back in the early part of the century.

 According to Sue, Frank Harfitt was born in 1881 on the 17th March and worked in the removals business for his entire life. He lived in Fisherton Street, Salisbury. In those days the Pickfords branch had a stable yard for the horses.

Frank had a great love of horses and was also a great racing fan. We think Frank was the ‘Branch Manager’, certainly the boss, and is third from the left, wearing the boater.Fisherton Street, Salisbury. In those days the Pickfords branch had a stable yard for the horses. Frank had a great love of horses and was also a great racing fan. We think Frank was the ‘Branch Manager’, certainly the boss, and is third from the left, wearing the boater.

Find out more about Pickfords history by visiting the Pickfords website.