John Henry Pick (1867 – 1954) was born in Stamford at The Welland Inn, Gas Lane, where his father, Robert, was the Licensee. He was educated at St Martin’s and St Michael’s Schools in Stamford until he was 13. He became an apprentice blacksmith and at age 16 joined Blackstones (the famous stationary oil engine manufacturers) where he graduated from smithying to engineering. He designed and patented a double-action hoe and then the cycle safety brake. His production started with a flourishing cycle manufacturing industry, and these cycles were exhibited locally in Stamford’s Assembly Rooms.
Pick contributed most to Stamford when he founded ‘The Pick Motor Company’ at his first premises, 5 Blackfriars Street, which soon had to be expanded to the rear. It is here that the model CT174 was made in 1901 which features in many of the photographs of his cars, and included the double cam brake (which up to that time was the greatest development in car manufacturing, and was incorporated into models for many years thereafter).
By 1906 he had left this company and set up a new one: ‘J H Pick & Company’ at 11 and 23a High Street, St Martins (opposite the George Hotel). He eventually had to move to larger two-storeyed premises on the corner of High Street and Barnack Road under the name of ‘The New Pick Motor Company’ (it is now St. Martins Antique Centre). Business flourished until World War II and models were even exported to Australia and New Zealand. Photographs of John’s workforce can be found in his file at Stamford Library.
Pick’s other great love was football, and he was primarily responsible for the acquisition of the Wothorpe Road ground for the Stamford Town Club. He advanced the money for materials to build the stand and provided voluntary labour from his workforce.
He was also a Town Council member for a while, elected in 1920, but declined the invitation to be Mayor and left after 2 years following a disagreement on the siting of the swimming baths in Bath Row. He died in 1954.
The blue plaque commemorating Pick was researched and installed by the Society in 2022.