Type Public
Founded circa 1695
Headquarters London, United Kingdom
Industry Integrated Transport Logistics

Pickfords is a moving company based in the United Kingdom, part of the international firm TEAM Group and a member of the British Association of Removers - one of the world's largest removal company networks. The business is believed to have been founded in the 17th century, making it one of the UK's oldest functioning companies. The Pickfords family of Adlington, South of Manchester, and later of nearby Poynton, first entered the wagon trade in the 17th century.

The business evolved through mergers with the firm moving into heavy haulage in the 20th century as steam powered and the Diesel haulage took off as industry expanded. The firm adsorbed many firms and was nationalised in the middle part of the 20th century along with most of the industry. The Modern firm is no longer involved in Heavy haulage



Pickfords at GDSF 08 - 2 Diamond T and Scammell Contractor IMG 0777

A Haualage demonstration at GDSF in 2008, 3 ex pickfords trucks (2 Diamond T's and a Scammell Contractor are pulled by 3 steam tractors round the haulage ring hill.

The earliest record is of a William Pickford, a carrier who worked south of Manchester in 1630. In 1646 a north-country yeoman by the name of Thomas Pickford had his lands confiscated by Parliament for gun-running and supporting the Cavaliers]] during the English Civil War.[1]

By 1695 the Pickfords' family were engaged in supplying quarry stone by packhorse for the construction of turnpike roads; instead of the packhorses returning with empty loads, they carried goods for third parties.[1]

In 1756 the company relocated to London and in 1776 it invented the fly wagon which could travel from London to Manchester in the then fast speed of four and a half days. A year later it bought the carrier business of William Bass, a Staffordshire haulier who carried ale for a local brewer. With the funds Bass went on to form a brewery which still bears his name today (But is owned by Coors of the USA).[1]

In the 1779 it entered the canal industry as well (from which it withdrew in 1850). In the 19th century, it operated wagons on other companies' railway tracks, but this was contentious, and eventually this service was eliminated.

In 1816 the company was close to bankruptcy after many years of decline. The Pickford family sold out to a number of businessmen led by Joseph Baxendale, whose family become instrumental in running the company for over a century.[1] For being late in delivering a miller's iron shaft, Pickford's was involved in the famous English contract law case, Hadley v. Baxendale (1848), where the court held the company was not liable for unforeseeable losses resulting from Pickford's lateness in delivering goods.

In the 20th century the company switched to road haulage. During this time it formed a rivalry with fellow hauliers Carter Paterson with whom they later merged with (amongst others) in 1912, although both kept their separate names for a period.

In 1920 the company was sold again, to Hays Wharf Limited, on the back of a burgeoning post-World War I home removals business - Pickfords still continued to operate under that name. In turn Hays Wharf was taken over by the four main British railway companies in 1934 and was subsequently nationalised in 1947 as part of British Road Services and what would become the National Freight Corporation (NFC) in the 1969.[1]

Heavy Haulage

In 1942 the Heavy Haulage division moves Mulberry harbour sections (temporary harbour) to sea launching sites prior to them being towed across the channel for the "D-day" landings.

As part of the NFC they were involved in a wide range of haulage activities including heavy haulage (moving oversize loads) during the 1950s to 80s. The company absorbed several well known haulage companies during this period but then withdrew from this sector. A number of former Pickfords vehicles have been preserved and can be seen at events, demonstrating moving outsize loads along with the earlier steam tractors(photo above).


The National Freight Consortium, as it was subsequently re-named, was privatised via a sale to employees in 1982 and Pickfords was subsequently sold to the American company Allied Van Lines in a deal worth $400 million,[2] The company was then sold again becoming part of Sirva in 2002.[1]

In 2008 Sirva hit financial difficulties and the Pickfords business was sold to the Anglo-American company TEAM Group.[3]

Allied Pickfords is a quality assured company with over 800 branches globally. Allied Pickfords is now the world's largest global network.[4]


Allied Pickfords Australia

Allied Pickfords Australia is the largest moving company in Australia. Allied Pickfords’ Australian operations commenced in 1982, when British-based company Pickfords purchased Downard Transport Industries in Australia to form Downard Pickfords. In 1991, the name of the company was then changed to Allied Pickfords.[5]

Pickfords Fleet (Heavy Haulage)

Pickfords Fleet Members
Reg No. Make Model Capacity Fleet No. Notes
JLD 701K Atkinson Venturer  ? M6865
JLD 708K Atkinson Venturer  ? M6872
AMH 536H Atkinson Viewline  ?  ?
WYO 309H Atkinson Viewline  ? M6210
XYM 419N Atkinson Venturer  ?  ?
GUV 381N Atkinson Venturer  ?  ?
UYL 810S GUY Big J4T  ? M6734
VYK 911S MAN 320  ?  ?
VXD 530 Scammell Junior Constructor 6x4  ? ton M2070
GXV 657 Scammell  ?  ? ton M4227
SYO 385F Scammell Contractor 6x4 240 ton M5035 ? One of fleet of 6 custom built for HH in 1960s
XUU925T Scammell Contractor Mk II 6x4 240 ton M ? One of 2 built for Pickfords in 1970s (4 more built)
XUU 919T Scammell Contractor MkII 6x4 240 ton M ? One of 2 built for Pickfords in 1970s (4 more built)
XUU 908T Scammell Crusader 6x4 M9532
G958 ARJ Volvo F12 8x4  ?  ? Ballasted Tractor

Former Pickfords Heavy Haulage fleet vehicles

A number of former Pickfords Heavy Haulage vehicles are in preservation in the UK. These an be seen at events such as Great Dorset Steam Fair, demonstrating moving large loads. Several specialist Trailers in Pickfords colours are also preserved.

Specialist books on heavy haulage feature photos of the moving of special loads by Pickfords and other Heavy Haulage Contractors.

  • Loads moved include Turbinia the 1894 built steam turbine powered launch moved to a new home in Newcastle's discovery museum in 1994 by Pickfords Volvo F12 G958 ARJ.[6]
  • In the 1980s they moved several LU rail cars
Former Pickfords Fleet Trucks in Preservation
Reg No. Make Model Build year Capacity Former Fleet No. Current Owner Image Notes
(were photo is / misc info)
VXD 530 Scammell Junior Constructor 6x4 1958 ton M2070 Paul Hammond To add At Rushden Transport Cavalcade
GXV 657 Scammell  ?  ?  ? M4227 Frank Hardern Scammell GXV 657 At Shugborough Hall Rally
Add known trucks here Image needed LHB Copy and paste to extend table

See also

Collecting related


External links

Template:Haulage contractors

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