Pickford Perspective

Historical Canal Maps: NarrowBoat, Winter 2014

Richard Dean

This well-known company once carried extensively on the canals, as shown by an advertising map from around 1825

With an established background as carriers on the unsatisfactory 18th-century road system, Thomas and Matthew Pickford were quick to appreciate the benefits of the new canals for their long-distance traffic. T&M Pickford’s fly boats were soon to be seen as waterways opened, and they rapidly became the largest canal carrying concern, with many local depots throughout the country. However, heavy debts built up and the original family firm was restructured with outside finance in 1817 as Pickford & Co. Led by Joseph Baxendale, further improvements and expansion took place throughout the 1820s, organised from a new London headquarters at the Regent’s Canal’s City Road Basin. The contemporary view of boats in the adjacent lock gives a good impression of Pickford’s boats. As a means of generating business, the local depots issued advertising leaflets listing the places to which goods could be sent, with a map attached showing the trading network. That reprod…

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