Our History

A History of J Barbour and Sons



The Barbour story began in 1894 in the Market Place in South Shields. Today the 5th generation family owned business remains in the North East, with Barbour's headquarters located in Simonside, South Shields.

Although we source products from around the globe, Barbour's classic wax jackets are still manufactured by hand in the factory in Simonside,

Barbour now has retail stores presence in over 40 countries worldwide including the United Kingdom, United States, Germany, Holland, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Argentina, New Zealand and Japan.

Collections cater for men, women, children and now even dogs! Broadening out from Barbour’s countrywear roots, today our heritage and lifestyle clothing brand produces clothing that is designed for a full lifestyle wardrobe. As well as jackets and coats, the Barbour wardrobe includes shirts, dresses, knitwear, footwear, accessories and more.

Barbour remains true to its core values as a family business which espouses the unique values of the British Countryside and brings the qualities of wit, grit and glamour to its beautifully functional clothing.


  • 1894
  • 1908
  • 1912
  • 1927
  • 1928
  • 1934
  • 1939
  • 1957
  • 1964
  • 1968
  • 1974
  • 1980
  • 1981
  • 1982
  • 1983
  • 1987
  • 1988
  • 1991
  • 1994
  • 2001
  • 2005
  • 2007
  • 2008
  • 2013
  • 2014
  • 2015
  • 2016
  • 2017
  • 2018
  • 2019

1894

The founder John Barbour opens J Barbour & Sons in 5 Market Place, South Shields

The first Barbour Mail order catalogue

1908

Malcolm Barbour produced the first mail order catalogue. By 1917 the catalogue accounted for almost 75% of Barbour's business including international orders from as far away as Chile, South Africa and Hong Kong.

John Barbour as Chairman

1912

J Barbour & Sons became J Barbour & Sons Ltd with John Barbour as Chairman and Jack and Malcolm as joint Managing directors

Malcolm Barbour appointed Chairman

1927

Jack Barbour resigned and Malcolm Barbour was appointed Chairman.

Duncan Barbour joined the business

1928

Duncan Barbour, Malcolm’s only son joined the business.

1934

Duncan Barbour, himself a keen motorcyclist introduced a motorcycling range which quickly took off and Barbour suits were worn by virtually every British International team from 1936 to 1977 when Barbour pulled out of the motorcycle clothing market.

Nancy Barbour
Captain George Philips wears the Ursula suit
1944 the Ursula suit

1939

Duncan Barbour was called away to war and Malcolm Barbour and Duncan’s wife Nancy took over the running of the business. They developed the Ursula suit which became standard issue for members of the Submarine Service. The Ursula suit was named after the U-class submarine, Ursula whose commander Captain George Philips was instrumental in getting the suits produced.

Barbour international oiled cotton suits

1957

97% of all competitors who took part in the Scottish 6 Day Event rode in Barbour International Oiled Cotton suits.

Simonside Trading Estate in South Shields

1957

Barbour moved to the Simonside Trading Estate on the outskirts of South Shields and built a manufacturing plant. After 63 years of being a retailer, Barbour became manufacturers and marketers.

John Barbour

1957

Duncan Barbour died age 48 and Malcolm Barbour again took over the business with Nancy and her son John Barbour age 19.

Nancy Barbour

1964

Malcolm Barbour died age 83 and Nancy Barbour took over the role of Chairman with John as Managing Director.

Dame Margaret Barbour

1968

John Barbour died suddenly leaving behind his young widow Margaret and their 2 year old daughter Helen. Margaret was immediately made a member of the Board of Directors.

1974

1 April Barbour received the first Royal warrant from HRH the Duke of Edinburgh.

The first Bedale jacket

1980

The first lightweight thornproof short riding jacket – the Bedale – was designed.

The Barbour International badge on the famous motorcycling jacket

1980

The distinctive black and gold Barbour International badge was first seen on the famous motorcycling jacket of the same name.

The Barbour factory in South Shields

1981

Barbour moved into a new factory in Simonside where the company remains to the present day.

Barbour recieved a second Royal Warrant

1982

1 January - Barbour received the second Royal Warrant by Her Majesty the Queen.

Barbour Beaufort Waxed Jacket 1983

1983

The Beaufort jacket designed by Margaret Barbour featured in the catalogue for the first time.

Barbour Logo with three Royal Warrants

1987

1 January - Barbour received the third Royal Warrant by HRH the Prince of Wales.

The Barbour Trust Logo

1988

The Barbour Trust was set up to support local and national projects and community issues. Margaret Barbour donated 20% of her shares in the company to The Barbour Trust.

1991

In June 1991 Margaret Barbour was honoured with the award of Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to industry.

Helen and Dame Margaret Barbour

J Barbour & Sons Ltd Centenery

1994

J Barbour & Sons Ltd celebrated its centenary.

2001

Margaret Barbour was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honour’s List.

Margaret Barbour Appointed a Dame

The Northumberland range designed by Lord James Percy

2005

Barbour won the Best Shooting Clothing Product at the IPC Shooting Awards for the Northumberland range designed by Lord James Percy.

Arctic Monkey, Alex Turner, wearing Barbour jacket on stage

2007

Barbour was the jacket of choice at the Glastonbury Festival with acts and celebrities such as the Arctic Monkeys, Lily Allen,and Rufus Wainwright all wearing the brand.

2008

Barbour won a special commendation at the Sunday Times PricewaterhouseCoopers Profit Track 100 Awards.

The Sunday Times PricewaterhouseCoopers Profit Track 100 Awards

2008

Barbour won Best Shooting Clothing Product at the IPC Shooting Industry Awards for the Linhope Endurance 3 in 1 jacket designed by Lord James Percy.

Newcastle Falcons Rugby Team

2013

Barbour sponsor Newcastle Falcons rugby team, as the official partner for off the field attire. Dressing players, coaches and management of the Newcastle team whose ground is located just north of the Barbour HQ.

The first collaboration with Land Rover

2014

Barbour launches its first collaboration with British luxury vehicle manufacturer Land Rover. The clothing and accessories collection launched in AW14 for both men and women.

2015

Barbour presents the brand at London Fashion Week Men’s for the first time at the Swiss Church in Covent Garden, highlighting key pieces from the AW15 range.

The first Barbour presentation at London Fashion week
Sam Heughan, the first Barbour brand ambassador

2016

Barbour signs Scottish actor, Sam Heughan, as its first global brand ambassador. Sam’s love of the outdoors and link to founder John Barbour made him the perfect fit.

The launch of the Barbour Way of Life campaign

2017

Barbour launches the Barbour Way of Life brand campaign, this was quickly embraced by consumers on social media, sharing their own #BarbourWayOfLife

Barbour Beacon AW18

2018

Barbour launches Barbour Beacon in the UK, taking the brand's rich heritage and giving it a contemporary twist

2019

Barbour launch a womenswear collaboration with the ALEXACHUNG brand.

Barbour by ALEXACHUNG collaboration