Barlow Tyrie is approaching 100 years since starting as a specialist manufacturer of Teak outdoor furniture. We are known and respected in developed markets worldwide having progressed from humble beginnings in East London to be the oldest remaining manufacturer of this very traditional English product.

This is our story.



Victor Tyrie

Victor Tyrie joined the Royal Marines as a drummer boy in 1912, aged 14 years.  This studio photograph was taken just before he deployed to the Western Front in 1917.  Victor was eventually invalided from the service in 1919 following the loss of his left thumb, still clearly evident here.

Victor Tyrie.jpg

1919

In 1919 following service in the First World War, Victor Tyrie and Frederick Barlow were employed by The Castles Shipbreaking Company on a government subsidized training scheme making outdoor furniture from Teak sourced from the breaking of old timber ships, the beginning of the teak outdoor furniture industry.  This employment ceased when the subsidy finished after one year.  Further interesting information is available on the Castles Shipbreaking website, in particular chapter 8.

1920

In 1920 Victor and Frederick together with a few others started their own business in London, initially in Walthamstow and shortly afterwards moving to a small stable behind a terrace of Victorian houses in Leytonstone.

In the early years their outdoor furniture was made almost entirely by hand with the only machine being a saw-bench they made themselves from an electric motor, steel shaft, bearings and with a wooden table.  Production, including planing the teak and cutting the mortice and tenon joints was all performed using hand tools and it took the most efficient worker at least a full day to make one teak seat.

The business prospered based on a quickly earned reputation for quality and value.  The following pages from our catalogue in the 1920s shows the Rothesay and London design seats that we still make today.  The retail prices shown evidences the inflation since that time of more than 200 times.

Being handmade, it was easy to produce special items that enhanced the Company’s reputation for craftsmanship and quality.  An example is the special memorial seat shown below, based on the Norman design seat shown on the catalogue page above.  This seat was in memory of a member of The Royal Flying Corps, who was killed in combat in 1917.

The Company has supplied many special memorial seats to sites that include Hiroshima, The Falkland Islands and Dunblane in Scotland.  A memorial seat combines a dedicated tribute to loved ones with the advantage of somewhere to sit in contemplation.

Wings Seat.jpg

Evelyn Paget Graves memorial seat

1939

On the outbreak of The Second World War the Company ceased making outdoor furniture and those employees too old for active service worked on the repair of London bomb damage and the installation of blackout in public buildings.

1949

A few years after the war when the supply of timber came off licence, the Company resumed its production of outdoor furniture, initially using home grown timber to produce rustic furniture.

As soon as teak became available again the Company reverted to its tradition for using only the best and produced in teak for supply to the fashionable and exclusive London stores at that time, which included Harrods, Maples, Heals and the Army & Navy Stores together with many other outlets.

1956

Barlow Tyrie & Co. was formed into a limited company and in 1959 Frederick Barlow died.  Victor Tyrie retired in 1968 and died in 1985 aged 88 years.

1967

Victor’s son Peter Tyrie then aged 22 joined the Company and  a year later took over its management following his father's retirement.

1970

The Company moved from Leytonstone where it had been for nearly 50 years to the old market town of Braintree in Essex.

 This move benefited from a scheme run by The Greater London Council to fund housing in designated Expanding Towns that included Braintree.  The scheme rehoused employees prepared to move from the older parts of war damaged London being redeveloped at that time.

1984

In 1984 the Company moved to a new and larger factory in Braintree to expand its production and this factory was enlarged further to 90,000 sq.ft. in 1991.

BTUK Offices.jpg

The offices of Barlow Tyrie Ltd. – Braintree, England

1986

The Company opened an office and warehouse in the USA to serve its increasingly important market in North America.

BTUSA Offices.png

The offices of Barlow Tyrie Inc. – Moorestown, USA

1992

The Company opened a factory in Indonesia on the island of Java in response to a decision by the Indonesian government to stop the export of Teakwood.  The Company had started sourcing its teak from Java in the early 1980s when the supply of teak from Burma, the traditional source, had become unreliable.  This factory is now approximately 300,000 sq.ft. in area.

BTIND Offices.jpg

The offices of PT Barlow Tyrie Indonesia

1994

Peter’s two sons Mark and James joined the Company and hold positions today in product design and management.  James is increasingly taking responsibility from his father who now works part time.

2000+

The Company moved from its traditional production exclusively in Teak to produce outdoor furniture in Weave, Stainless Steel and Aluminium.  These production changes were made in response to the rapidly increasing cost of Teak and changing fashion in outdoor furniture.