Containerization,its origins

Containerization has its origins in early coal mining regions in England from the late 18th century on. In 1795, Bejamin Outram opened the Little Eaton Gangway upon which coal was carried in wagons built at his Butterley Ironworks. 

The horse-drawn wheeled wagons on the Gangway took the form of containers, which, loaded with coal, could be transhipped from canal barges on the Derby Canal which Outram had also promoted.

By the 1830s, railroads on several continents were carrying containers that could be transferred to other modes of transport. The Liverpool and Manchester Railway in the United Kingdom was one such. "Simple rectangular timber boxes, four to a wagon, they were used to convey coal from the Lancashire collieries to Liverpool, where they were transferred to horse drawn carts by crane."[2] Originally used for moving coal on and off barges, "loose boxes" were used to containerize coal from the late 1780s, at places like the Bridgewater Canal. By the 1840s, iron boxes were in use as well as wooden ones. The early 1900s saw the adoption of closed container boxes designed for movement between road and rail.

In the United Kingdom, several railway companies were using similar containers by the beginning of the 20th century and in the 1920s the Railway Clearing House standardized the RCH container. Five- or ten-foot-long, wooden and non-stackable, these early standard containers were a great success, but the standard remained UK-specific.