The Box that changed the World – Part 1

Let me introduce you to the humble, often taken-for-granted SHIPPING CONTAINER.

A standard sea container.

Containers are integral to the BEST self storage facilities today and are often known as, ‘the boxes that changed the world’, and because we use them on anglia self storage’s site in central Lincoln we feel quite passionate about them.

They have transformed the self storage industry due to their assets including durability, strength and security. More about the modern day container later, first, I’m going to take you back in time before the shipping container existed…

For centuries mankind voyaged across the seas taking not only themselves but food, cotton, treasure and goods, the likes of which countries had never seen before, for example the Egyptians, Greeks and Romans.

How did they transport their goods around the world? Well they clearly shipped them, but without any standardisation it was a slow and difficult process.

In 1957 the mechanics were still the same – there still were no sea containers or intermodal transport systems. Goods were being transported from land transport to the side of the docked ship where they were loaded into sacks, crates and barrels by hand and onto the ship. It was a very labour intensive process called ‘bulk cargo’. A standardised method of transport was desperately needed – enter, Malcolm McLean, a transport business owner. 

Searching for a more efficient way to transport his clients’ cargo he had the idea of creating a standard sized trailer which could be loaded directly onto boats. His system enabled goods to be loaded DIRECTLY between trucks, trains and ship easily, quickly and cheaply, eliminating the in between handling.

In Part 2, coming soon read how McLean created perfected a new era of intermodal transportation…

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