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Barlow Tyrie is approaching 100 years since starting as a specialist manufacturer of Teakwood 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.

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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, which was sourced from the breaking of old timber ships, the foundation 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 horse stable no longer required behind a terrace of Victorian houses in Leytonstone.

In the early years our outdoor furniture was made almost entirely by hand with the only machine being a saw-bench we made ourselves 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 our reputation for craftsmanship and quality.  An example is the special memorial seat shown below, based on the Norman design seat shown on the second catalogue page above.  This seat was in memory of Evelyn Paget Graves, a member of The Royal Flying Corps who was killed during combat in 1917.

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

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Evelyn Paget Graves memorial seat

1939

On the outbreak of The Second World War we 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, we resumed production, initially using home grown timber to produce rustic outdoor furniture.

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

1956

Barlow Tyrie & Co. was registered as 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

We moved from Leytonstone where we 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 in several designated Expanding Towns that included Braintree.  The scheme provided housing for residents of London prepared to move from areas being redeveloped at that time and included some of our employees.

1975

We introduced our products to the European market with the following leading retail and mail order companies, Van Valderen in Holland, Tectona in France and Garpa in Germany.  Although these companies are no longer our distributors, they still occupy a leading position in their respective national market and some copies of our products can still be found in their ranges.

1984

We moved to a new and larger factory in Braintree to enable us to expand our production and we enlarged this factory further to 90,000 sq.ft. in 1991.

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The offices and factory 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.

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The offices and warehouse of Barlow Tyrie Inc. – Moorestown, USA

1992

We opened a factory on the island of Java in response to a decision by the Indonesian government to stop the export of Teak, which we started to source from there in the early 1980s when the supply of Teak from Burma, the traditional source, became unreliable.  Following purchase, we redeveloped the factory and expanded it over several years with the addition of a sawmill and kilns to approximately 300,000 sq.ft. in area.

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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+

We added to our exclusive, traditional production in Teak with outdoor furniture in Weave, Stainless Steel and Aluminium as a response to the rapidly increasing cost of Teak and the consequent changing fashion in outdoor furniture.