Barnard Ltd of Norwich
1948 Austin CXB with a Barnard B33F body.
1948 4510 Austin CXB Barnard B33F 1948-1969
Part One: From the Beginnings to World War Two
In 1826, young Charles Barnard (1804-1871) left his native village of Bracon Ash in Norfolk, and set up as an “ironmonger, oil and colourman” in Market Place, Norwich. Supported initially by his father-in-law Matthew Joy, the business thrived. By 1840, Mr Barnard had established a retail workshops in Pottergate, making ironwork for domestic and agricultural implements. In response to the local demand for fencing, he invented a mechanical loom in 1844 to produce woven wire netting. This pioneering machine survives in working order at the Bridewell Museum:
[Charles Barnard’s Wire Netting Machine by munkt0n, on Flickr.]
In 1846, Charles Barnard teamed up with ironmaker John Bishop of St Ives in Huntingdonshire, trading as Barnard and Bishop. His eldest sons (Charles Junior and Godfrey) joined the partnership in 1859, the firm becoming known as Barnard, Bishop and Barnards. The census informs us that in 1861 Mr Barnard employed “105 workmen, 47 lads, 7 clerks and 4 shopmen”. Around this time he established the Norfolk Iron Works (see earlier post) in Coslany Street, comprising iron foundry, steam-powered netting mill and production tramway. The business diversified in the 1860s and 1870s into ornamental ironwork with pretensions of grandeur. In 1864, Barnard, Bishop and Barnards made the “Norwich Gates”, which were designed by Thomas Jeckyll (1827-1881), exhibited in London at the Great Exhibition, and given by the county of Norfolk to the Prince of Wales as a wedding present. They stand to this day at the entrance to the Royal Park at Sandringham:
[George Plunkett’s Photographs of Old Norwich]
After Charles Barnard’s death in 1871, the firm continued to prosper. In 1875 James Garton Bower (1854-1935) began his long involvement with the company. The following year a wrought and cast iron pagoda won a prize in Philadelphia, and, after being exhibited in Paris two years later, was sold to Norwich Corporation for £500 and erected in Chapel Field Gardens. In the 1880s the manufacture of iron bridges was begun: the Norwich City Station Bridge is still with us:
In 1887 the firm was incorporated as a limited liability company under the title Barnard, Bishop and Barnards Ltd. By 1901 James Bower had redesigned and rebuilt the wire netting machinery. He invented and patented a machine for weaving mixed-mesh wire-netting, many thousands of miles of which were exported to Australia for rabbit-proof fencing. In 1905 Mr Bower became Managing Director and Chairman of the company, and at the end of 1907 he led a management buy-out of the old firm’s assets. Mr Bower’s new company was named Barnards Ltd. During World War One (1914-1918) Barnards was a large contributor to the war effort, supplying castings, cooking stoves and seven thousand miles of wire netting for road-making in Egypt. Two hundred Barnards workers enlisted, of whom fifteen didn’t return, including the Managing Director’s youngest son Charles Francis Bower (1891-1917). In 1921 part of Mousehold Aerodrome was purchased for warehousing, later to become Barnards main premises. The manufacture of chain link fencing was begun in 1928.
1948 Austin CXB with Barnard body
1948 VVS 913 Austin CXB Barnard B33F
The death of James Bower in 1935 signalled the end of an era. He had been with Barnards for sixty years, thirty of those as the man in charge. He was as comfortable in the workshops as in the boardroom, and despite a reputation as a strong-willed workaholic, he found time for numerous hobbies including tennis and astronomy. His loss was keenly felt by the firm of which he had been the driving force for so long. World War Two (1939-1945) brought a temporary reprieve: Barnards employed 1,200 workers making munitions, aircraft parts and 750,000 telegraph poles for the North African Campaign. Later in the war they made propellers and steam gear assemblies for motor torpedo boats used in the Japanese theatre. The factory at Mousehold was bombed on two occasions, killing two workers and destroying many hangars, but not seriously impeding production.
1948 Guy Wolf chassis, JC8344, carries a Barnard body jc8344
1948 EN 9180 Guy Wolf Barnard B20F 1948-1954
[Bradford 575 (FKY 575) Daimler CVD6 Barnards H30/26R 1950-1959 … Bolton Road, Bradford (Sunday 24 June 1956) … by John Kaye via SCT ’61]
Barnards Ltd of Norwich
Part Two: Diversification, Decline and Demise
1949 AEC Regent III with Barnard H30-26R bodywork
After World War Two, Barnards Ltd were all tooled up with nowhere to go — after industrious wartime activity, the order books were alarmingly empty. “Diversification” became the catch-cry, which involved (amongst other activities) a three-year burst of bus and coach bodybuilding. Now as far as I know, Barnards had no previous experience of coachwork, and the circumstances surrounding this venture remain somewhat mysterious. What is known is that two managers from Northern Coachbuilders of Newcastle (Horace Hatton and Jack Herdman) joined Barnards Ltd by 1948 to head up the new Barnards coachworks. In the three years 1948-1950, Barnards made a total of 115 bus and coach bodies, amongst them 37 double-deckers. The bus enthusiasts at SCT ’61 have cleverly worked out the full census of double-deckers:
1949 Daimler CVD6 with a Barnard H30-26R body hwx753
19 highbridge bodies (1948-1950) to Dundee Corporation Transport for AEC and Daimler chassis: the Daimlers were rebodied after about 10 years but the AEC bodies lasted 18-19 years.
- 6 highbridge bodies (1949-1950) to Bradford Corporation Transport for Daimler CVD6 chassis: lasted until 1958-1959.
3 highbridge bodies (1949-1950) to South Shields Corporation Transport for Daimler CVD6 and Guy Arab chassis: fate unknown.
2 highbridge bodies (1948-1950) to Northern Roadways for unknown chassis: fate unknown.
2 lowbridge bodies (1949) to Greens Motors of Haverfordwest for Guy Arab chassis: lasted until 1962-1967.
2 highbridge bodies (1948-1949) to Clynnog & Trevor of Caernarfon for Guy Arab chassis: lasted until 1960s.
1 lowbridge body (1949) to Birch Brothers for a Leyland TD7 chassis: lasted until 1960.
1 lowbridge body (1949) to Silcox of Pembroke Dock for a Bristol K6G chassis: lasted until 1969.
1 highbridge body (1949) to Rossie Motors for a Daimler CVD6 chassis: lasted until 1965.
This only leaves 78 single-decker and coach bodies to be accounted for. Of these, I have information on 13 single-deckers and a mere three coaches. We have seen pictures in these pages of Barnards single-deck coachwork, but as far as I know we have yet to see a Barnards coach body. All I can say is: “Watch this space”.
1949 Guy Wolf with Barnard B20F body jc9735
For reasons unknown, Barnards ceased making bus and coach bodies in 1950. By 1955, flagging fortunes led to a takeover by Tinsley Wire Industries Ltd of Sheffield. The firm continued to operate in Norwich under the Barnards name, concentrating on its core business of fencing products. In 1964 Tinsley took over Boulton & Paul’s wire products division, merging it with Barnards. Pausing briefly to celebrate 150 years of trading in 1976, the firm found some respite from hard times during the 1980s “oil boom”, making 100 miles a day of wire netting for lagging and reinforcing concrete around undersea oil pipes. In 1991, the Barnards Ltd ceased operations in Norwich and closed the Mousehold Works.