We’re really proud of our rich history and heritage. Take a look at our timeline below and see how Barkers came to be.
Wilfred Barker established W. H. Barkers and Sons. It began life by engineering equipment for the mines and coal fields that had sprung up following the Industrial Revolution. Tipplers, coal breakers, feeder retarders, turntables, decking plant and vibrator screens were commonly manufactured products.
As Barkers’ mining products enabled coal supply – the primary energy source at the time – we were deemed a protected industry during WWII. As such, many employees were not drafted and stayed on at Barkers to help Britain keep its lights on and support the war effort from home.
W. H Barkers and Sons Engineers became a Limited company.
We specialised in mining equipment for many years. Here is Gordon Lovatt, a Fitter in the 60s, assembling products.
We supported the full mining industry infrastructure, including the transport of coal. These are winches engineered by W.H Barkers and Sons, pictured on a ship anchored on the River Tyne.
A poignant picture showing a washbox we made for Rawdom Colliery. The man you see is Stan Underwood, otherwise known as Rabbit. Other than serving his country, he worked for Barkers his entire career.
A coal breaker we made for Tilmanstone Colliery – just one of a wide network of mines which dotted Kent for most of the twentieth century.
This is a gantry for the pits leaving our site. In later years, a conveyor belt would have been used to move coal.
Coal mining gradually became uneconomical, and by the 1980s, the industry was in decline. Barkers is honoured to have serviced this transformative industry for so many years. In the early part of the decade, we diversified our products and began manufacturing palisade fencing and railings. At the time we also produced rollershutter doors and weed screens for the Environment Agency.
After 1986, we only repaired machinery and manufactured replacement parts for the mines.
W. H. Barkers and Sons was acquired by Hill and Smith Holdings Plc. W. H. Barkers and Sons had started manufacturing crash barriers for Hill and Smith Limited so when the opportunity arose Hill and Smith Holdings brought manufacturing of their products back within the group.
To meet demand for our fencing products, we opened our galvanizing plant here in Staffordshire. This marks a significant change in the identity of Barkers and the breadth of our product offering.
We formally ended our mining work in the mid-1990s – but we’ll never forget our roots and the industry that we were an integral part of for so long.
We celebrated the millennial year in style by becoming Barkers Engineering on 4th July, 2000.
Shortly after our change of name, we extended our operation with the opening of our powder coating plant here in Staffordshire. This type of finishing was growing in popularity and as such, we were experiencing significant demand. We have been able to offer our unique end to end service from our single location ever since.
Mesh fencing was introduced into our range as it begun to increase in popularity.
We secured the perimeter of a mineral mine in Papua New Guinea. It was testiment to the success of the project that we were later asked to secure another mine for the same client in the Dominican Republic.
Our projects took us to Australia where we secured the 2009 V8 Supercar Championship Series, which consisted of 26 races over 14 events which were held in all states and the Northern Territory of Australia as well as New Zealand. We manufactured a temporary fencing solution that could be transported and used across all events. The same year, we manufactured palisade to secure Perth Zoo and mesh for Perth Airport.
Despite the economic down turn, we invested £500,000 in 2 new robot welders and a laser machine, in order to increase capacity, ensure the highest quality and speed up production.
Following the commencement of the decommissioning process of Bradwell Power Station in 2002, 1,000 metres of StronGuard™ was deployed around the Magnox Power station to secure the perimeter during the care & maintenance program which lasts circa 100 years
4000m of our SecureGuard358 was installed around the Port of Calais in support of Eurotunnel and the French authorities helping to prevent migrants hoping to gain unauthorised entry to the United Kingdom.
We formed HS Security, a group of companies within Hill and Smith Holdings who manufacture products for the security sector. Our range now encompasses all steel fencing. We have secured sites all over the world such as mineral mines in South America and Papua New Guinea, where the Bank of England prints its money, a V8 supercar circuit in Sydney, Perth Airport and James Madison University in America.