Barber Wilsons is the oldest independent, family-owned company manufacturing water fittings in the United Kingdom. Spanning three centuries, we have offered classic style with outstanding quality and today remain a prestige brand-name sought after by thousands of designers and consumers across the UK, US and beyond.
Founded originally in 1899 as Wilson Brothers, with a change in 1905 by the brothers William and Walter Wilson, by the introduction of Edward Barber, the business began from a small factory on what was to grow into the Crawley Road headquarters where it remains to the present day. A highly skilled workforce was employed for the firm’s foundry and workshop. In it’s first decade, the business produced bib taps and pillar valves for kitchen and bathroom use, along with ball valves, ferret joints and general plumbers brass foundry. As the years progressed, the customer base grew, and the product range was diversified.
The advent of the Great War in 1914 was to trigger new growth. As well as winning a number of sizeable war contracts for the manufacture of shell noses and fuses, the firm manufactured a breakthrough device that would revolutionise aerial combat. This was a product that enabled machine guns to fire through the rotating propeller blades of fighter aircraft.
In the 1920s, peacetime brought even greater prosperity to the next generation of Wilsons as the business went from strength to strength. The company was awarded a lucrative contract to manufacture special fittings for London’s newly built Dorchester Hotel. The firm reaped the rewards of a growing number of loyal customers and appointed new staff to accommodate the increased order books.
The Second World War again brought challenges together with new opportunities; the factory was lucky enough to avoid a direct hit from Hitler’s Luftwaffe, producing a variety of items for incorporation in aircraft and naval vessels, as well as for military camps, fire brigades and hospitals.
In post-war Britain, the demand for plumbing products grew to staggering proportions as property construction and repair became a matter of national priority. Barber Wilsons continued to grow, receiving innumerable orders for all types of water fittings. In the next few decades, the company once again made efforts to increase its sales and met this with qualified success.
The 1970s and ‘80s were to see a huge revival in the company’s fortunes as a wave of nostalgia for the designs of the 1930s carried the company forward yet again. During this period the company widened its product range to include the new trend for fitting period-style bathrooms, complete with roll-top and cast-iron baths and new, but traditionally styled brassware. These fittings continue to be highly sought after today and remain a large part of our business
The company continued to enjoy growth during the 1980s. New brochure designs were created, with the brassware range growing to become the most comprehensive in the industry. By the turn of the century Barber Wilsons were the only remaining independent family-run brassware manufacturing company in the UK – it had come a long way from its humble beginnings producing crystal radio sets and stopcocks! Barber Wilsons has since designed and produced everything from cigarette lighters, through to door handles for the RMS Queen Mary liner. Other notable achievements that punctuate our company history and status, are major refurbishment contracts that we have been awarded from iconic clients and institutes such as Claridge’s, The Savoy and Raffles (Singapore). We continue to enjoy commissions for the most prestigious and famous hotels in the world, who demand peerless quality brassware for their discerning clients. Such as The Hyde Park, The Connaught, The Grosvenor, Dukes, Carlton Tower, The Four Seasons Group and many others. Barber Wilsons is continually involved within prestigious refurbishment projects for private clients, which include the Royal Households.
With over 120 years of history ‘specialising in specialities’ Barber Wilsons & Co are proud to have involved four generations, evolving traditional skills, product designs and always utilising the highest quality materials, to continue supplying the very best of taps, showers and bathroom equipment to our valued customers. We enter 2020 and beyond with a proud new identity and a vision to continue a rich heritage of innovation.