Thomas Barker & Sons

One of the earliest known customers for engineering products was Thomas Barker & Sons, of No. 14, Swan Street, Loughborough. Following their move to No. 30 Meadow Lane, Loughborough[1], the Swan Street site was occupied by the Cooperative Store, and today (2017), by Wilkinson Hardware Stores Ltd.

1932 Advertisement, Toppings’ Family Almanack

The firm had a long-standing business relationship with Thomas Barker & Sons. They used them on numerous occasions, across the whole country, for ground- and brickwork when installing horticultural structures at client sites.

Conversely Thomas Barker had used the firm to install heating systems into their Swan Street offices and workshops on at least five occasions at the beginning of the twentieth century. In March 1901, they installed a heating system into the offices using a No. 2 Harness Room boiler, one of only two known to have been installed by the firm[2]. Three years later, they were engaged to install a system into the workshops, although for some unknown reason this did not go-ahead[3]. In 1911, they provided additional office heating, including a new No. 33 Quorn boiler[4]. In November 1917, a further extension to the heating system was made, although there was no boiler[5]. In 1922, further alterations were made to the heating system in the offices[6].

No. 14, Swan Street, Loughborough, site of Thomas Barker & Sons offices and workshops

Records[7] of bespoke engineering work for Thomas Barker & Sons covers a period of fourteen years from January 1914 until December 1927. However, there is no evidence to suggest that these dates are totally inclusive and it is probable that work began earlier and ran later than the existing records would lead us to believe.

Running alongside the bespoke engineering work are orders for the firm’s standard products, such as grating, manhole covers, rainwater pipes, soot doors and frames, etc., as well as some timber-based products.

Three of the more unusual requests during 1914 include:

  1. In January: a steel emergency staircase that was required for new premises for Messrs Johnson & Barnes, hosiery manufacturers, in Rutland Street, Leicester.
    Examples of Thomas Barker & Sons Orders
  2. In July: ironwork, for a new factory at Daventry, for Messrs Stead & Simpson, Ltd., including ten 20ft. 6in. long 12in. x 6in. RSJ’s 44lbs per ft.; ten 20ft. long 12in. x 6in. R.S.J’s 44lbs per ft.; one 13ft. 8in. x 6.in R.S.J. 34lbs per ft.; sixty-three 12in .x 10in. cast iron brackets; fifteen 12ft. 6in. long, tapering from 6½in. at the base to 5½in. at the top, with both cap and base plate, etc. Everything was painted with two coats of Torbay oxide.

    Examples of Thomas Barker & Sons Orders
    Examples of Thomas Barker & Sons Orders

  3. In October: twenty-one window frames (17 off 6ft. high x 3ft. 6in., wide, segmental headed; one 5ft. x 5ft. 6in. segmental headed; two 6ft. x 5ft. 6in. segmental headed, one with two bottom openings) in cast-iron or wrought-steel; three steel roof principals, 25ft. 9in. wide; forty-two 11ft. long 1½in. x 1½in. x ¼in. steel angle bars; twenty-eight 10ft. long 1½in. x 1½in. x ¼in. steel angle bars; ; fourteen 9ft. long 1½in. x 1½in. x ¼in. steel angle bars, 84 ⅜in. bolts; destination Cortonwood Colliery[8], near Rotherham.

    Examples of Thomas Barker & Sons Orders
    Examples of Thomas Barker & Sons Orders

Over the next thirteen years the type of requests remained static with around a 70/30 split between standard products or variants against true bespoke one-off products.

 

Examples of Thomas Barker & Sons Orders

During 1927, the last year for which records exist, Thomas Barker was purchasing quantities of rainwater pipes and other products for their house building programmes in Rotherham, Leicester, Shelthorpe in Loughborough and for the extension to Loughborough Cemetery, Leicester Road. To meet these requirements, the firm bought-in several finished components from other suppliers including The Burton Foundry Co., Ltd., of Burton-Trent; Wright’s Havelock Foundry Co., Ltd., Leicester; Keppoch Ironworks, Possilpark, Glasgow.

Bought-in Orders for Thomas Barker & Sons

References:

  1. London Gazette, 22nd August 1967.

  2. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/64.

  3. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/46.

  4. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/50.

  5. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/68.

  6. Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Record Office ref: DE2121/68.

  7. Privately held.

  8. This is where the 1984 miners’ strike began. Its’ closure was announced the day after the strike began and closed two years later. The site has now been converted into a shopping and leisure area.