W H Barnes piano maker

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annanna
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W H Barnes piano maker

Post by annanna »

Does anyone have any histories of WH Barnes piano makers of 502-4 Oxford St London 1828-1937? Apart from listings in piano atlases I have not found anything. They made WH Barnes uprights (still some for sale on ebay - middle of the range), baby grand pianos and some for other manufacturers.

Does anyone know who worked there, how big the company was and what happened to the Barnes family (& where are their decsendents now?) when it closed (presumably due to the Great Depression and then WW2)?

Thanks for any info-

Ann
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Are you a descendant? Email me. They didn't make the pianos, and didn't close after ww2.
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artdecogirl21
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Barnes piano decendants.

Post by artdecogirl21 »

Hi,

My name is Sally ( formerly Sally Barnes.) My great uncle owned WH Barnes pianos, and my grandfather also sold pianos under the name of just Barnes. There was a sister as well, called Ethel, who had a piano shop in Ramsgate.

I would love to hear from you again, and to give you any information I can.

Best wishes,

Sally

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Barnes

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If you would like to email me, I can pass on your contact details to other descendants of Barnes, and give you some rough notes I received from them. Do you know in what year W.H. died?
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Bill Kibby »

The following message disappeared somehow...

Dear Sally

Thank you for your reply. There was some close connection between my great
grandparents in the 1890s and grandparents in the 1920-30s and WH Barnes
pianos - the early shop near corner of Oxford St and Baker St W1.

The latter were given a WH Barnes piano as a wedding present (amazing as
they were very poor) and the former named one of their children Barnes - and
my dad John James Bowling thought his paternal grandparents made pianos near
Baker St. (no evidence that the Bowlings made pianos at all from the
censuses and birth/marriage/death certificates traced though). There was
some valued link though. Maybe I will never know, but do you have any
records of employees or addresses between 1890 and 1930 to start to shed
light/

Best wishes Ann
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!

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!
Last edited by Wanda Summers on 27 Nov 2009, 21:25, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by vernon »

We had a piano shop in Margate next to Ramsgate but I have no recollection of a shop there of that name and my Dad and grandad never mentioned one. Was it called " Barnes.? The piano shop in Ramsgate was "Goulden and Wind."for many years. They were also in Canterbury and Deal. I knew Mr Goulden.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Bill Kibby »

I like to keep in touch with descendants of piano makers, if any of you would like to email me. Perhaps you can solve a little puzzle, because W.H. Barnes is said to have died in 1931, yet he seems to have signed a letter in 1941.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Emgee »

I found your post because co-incidentally I have just put my much loved WH Barnes upright up for sale on this site. It was purchased by my Grandfather in 1941, my Mother had it renovated and the case re-modernised in the 60's, as she thought the old black case didn't 'go' with our new flat! I learned to play on it and it has been in the family all these years. I still have the receipt which gives the address as: W.H. Barnes, Pianoforte Manufacturers, Head Office, 36 & 38 Peckham Road, SE5. The directors are shown as: E. Barnes, D.D. Hancock, N.J. Skinner, M.B. Mast, P.E. Thompson Hancock, F. Clifton Hilberry. The cost was £37 6d, which I believe my grandparents paid for in instalments over 5 years. I think it has been worth every penny!
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Bill Kibby »

Thanks for that. My Gran bought a Barnes about 9 years before that. If there is any chance you could supply me a good colour scan or copy of the receipt, would you please email me direct. Thanks.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Emgee »

I've sent you an e-mail with a scan of the receipt and hope you find it of interest. It's nice to think we haven't kept it in vain for the last 68 years!
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Anthony Taylor »

My father, Frederick William Taylor was General Manager about 1932 to 1938. He started at the company by
taking a job advertised as "piano tracer" only finding out after being taken on that this meant tracing pianos bought on hire purchase when payments had lapsed, which was common. He was a strong and confident looking guy who had been in the Life Guards and the police and this prepared him well to persuade the customers to pay up. The tracers went around in pairs to some pretty rough places and were frequently abused and threatened. To prevent re-possession some customers would chain the foot of the piano to the floor joists. However, they usually relented when the tracers started dismantling the piano to throw it piece by piece out of the window. Life was pretty tough in those days! Just how father rose from tracer to General Manager in a few years is not clear, but for a while we were very prosperous.

I remember being taken when about 5 years old to his office over the works in Peckham, where he had a very smart secretary called Miss Silverstein (I think). I still have a photograph of him in this office at a large desk with several telephones and fashionable art deco lamps. I also have some photographs of many of the staff there at that time.
Another memory was of going as a family to watch the 1937 coronation procession on seating set up in the shop on Oxford Street. The story was that this shop at the time had the largest single window in the country.

My Dad's story was that one of the causes of the company's decline was that Billy Barnes took on a son-in-law, who was a dance band leader, as a director. He was said to have been better at spending money than at making it. One of their early purchases was a Rolls-Royce fashioned in the shape of a motor launch.

I would love to hear more from others with a connection and could post the photos if anyone is interested.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Anthony Taylor »

I have just posted some history which may interest you. Barnes Pianos were still active in 1937, because I went with my father (who was General Manager) to watch the coronation procession from the shop in Oxford Street.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by djwandl »

Not sure if this is relevant at all but I was just chasing a relative through the census and note that she was listed as the niece of a William Barnes, born Portsea, Hampshire, a pianoforte maker, employing nine men in Kensington, London. It was the 1871 census. Wife was named Sarah and (I think) my relative was Eliza Dickman.

While I've got everybody, does anyone know anything about a family of piano makers called Brooks? My son-in-law's family is somehow connected and his relatives were all in the Nottingham area of England, though I believe the piano family was based in London.

Any assistance gratefully received.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Bill Kibby »

I can deal with this in more detail by email. The term "pianoforte maker" in the censuses usually implies an employee, whereas "pianoforte manufacturer" suggests an employer in business in his own name. Then again, "pianoforte maker" will give the impression that he did the whole thing, whereas most of these people specialised in particular areas of piano manufacturer. The obvious suspect for Brooks is a famous firm that made piano actions.
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MarkGoodwinPianos
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos »

Bill Kibby wrote:I can deal with this in more detail by email
Why is that?
It's good to see you work through these things on the forum. That way the forum archives are improved and people with similar enquiries can see the full info right here without having to email you or create a new topic here.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Bill Kibby »

It's because although I am happy to help individuals, I don't give my life's work away free on the internet.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos »

Bill Kibby wrote:I don't give my life's work away free on the internet.
Why not?
The internet is the perfect way to share your life's work for the greater good.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Bill Kibby »

That's wonderful news, I am sure people will be delighted to hear that you are going to give away all your pianos free for the greater good. Or is that what you depend on for an income?
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Johnkie
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Johnkie »

I can't see why Bill seems to be irked by Mark's observations. I understood that this forum was for the benefit of everyone, and that all that post here, do it without any idea of making money. It does appear that the history section run by Bill, gives a great deal of general information that is helpful to many posters ... which is entirely a good thing. However I sometimes think the requests to E-mail for further information is a little like taking advantage of this forum. Yes Bill has every right not to give his life's work away gratis, but using the forum as a springboard to a specialised piano history business could perhaps be considered a little naughty. I may be mistaken, and merely have the wrong impression, in thinking that there is a cost involved for this further information, in which case why would there be a need to take things away from this public forum? If fees are charged, and information is given outside of the forum arena, then maybe a paid advertisement on this site would be a more open approach. :wink:
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MarkGoodwinPianos
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by MarkGoodwinPianos »

No need for sarcasm Bill, it was just a question. I'm interested to know why you don't want to share your life's work on the internet that's all. Does it have monetary value? If so, fair enough but it ruins topics when the final conclusions of the discussions are taken away to private emails.

Just my thoughts. No need to get defensive :)

If you can give a straight answer I'd be interested to read it
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Colin Nicholson
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Post by Colin Nicholson »

Just read the previous comments to this, and I think (deep down) & in general, there will always be some form of "negative advertising" on the go.... its only natural (hence, our signatures/ titles/ job description/ years of employment & letters after our name/ website addresses/ area we live in etc etc), and to some, its a means of a possible income (and a sneakyish way to put our name across?) why not?. I myself dont mind offering free advice from time to time (and even had by hand rapped for offering too much advise!), and yes, it may be a suggestion that if whoever is replying feels the need to eventually start charging (which I fully respect), then maybe its best to just PM them before it gets to that stage, without informing any on-lookers and advertising the fact that a charge would be made. I used to help out on the other forum - the one that's been invaded with porn/ drugs etc, and I managed to get a tuning out of it (albiet.... in the Lake District!!).... so whilst its not really a crime, it will always be a form of negative advertising.... and a feeling of "oh, by the way, in case you are from my area, bear me in mind"...... it happens. I've no grudges/ jealousy - nothing like that, I've only been on the forum just over 12 months - not for me to criticise.... any way, just my views.

Not immediately, but in the very near future, I would like to advertise on here if possible. My website is being constructed as we speak, and I'll be honest, I wouldn't mind a couple of tunings or pupils from it!! If there is anything in writing here on this forum that clearly states "no advertising" (or pilfering), would be interested to see it.

PS.... during these previous riots, you never see pianos being nicked!!

I hope we can all maintain a good level of professionalism, and whilst offering free advice, we ourselves know our limitations to the amount of free info given. If I felt the member was 'stretching things out' (so to speak), I would kindly inform them on the quiet.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Johnkie »

Colin Nicholson » Thu Sep 01, 2011 2:28 pm

Just read the previous comments to this, and I think (deep down) & in general, there will always be some form of "negative advertising" on the go.... its only natural (hence, our signatures/ titles/ job description/ years of employment & letters after our name/ website addresses/ area we live in etc etc), and to some, its a means of a possible income (and a sneakyish way to put our name across?)


I'm not entirely in agreement with you on that Colin ... I certainly don't expect, or even consider, that putting details of who you are or what you do, would in turn bring in more business or make more money. I regard publishing such details as a way of letting people know that you are indeed a professional, and not frightened (or what ever other reason some may have) to expose who and what you are. Personally speaking, there is nothing sneaky in being up front and honest, with a genuine remit to help others without expecting to get something back in return. I do however, concede that there will be some that do. :wink:
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Colin Nicholson »

Johnkie, I know myself and many others know that you are a genuine guy, and that my reply was in no way aimed at you or anyone in particular.... I was making a general comment only about the negative & sideward advertisements that everyone makes. However since you have 'bitten' the bait.... I can now reel you in !!!

You say that you don't 'expect' business to come your way from these posts.... well, neither do I. This way of advertising is too casual & brief, (doesn't pack a punch!!) and yes, it displays our name etc of what we do. In fact, but it would be nice on the off-chance though to get a sale?...... If that is the case.... just to display your name & job description (like mine), then if none of us expect a slight smidgen of a chance of a tuning/ repair/ sale.... etc, then should we remove our 'PM' notice, email envelope and website icon (atlas) ???? this is of course great for this forum, as 'on the side', if anyone wants to click on one of those icons, they can do so knowing there would be professional help at hand...... so does this mean that you would turn down a tuning/ repair/ restoration?? ......

We often put this 'front' on for the benefit of the forum & readers, but its obvious everyone's 'on the side' adverts are there for a reason.... what other reason are they there for?
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by oldmole »

I have a piano serial No 513333 which has the name W H Barnes Ltd 502-504 Oxford Street W.1 on the case just above bottom A and the name Kirkwood Pianos in much bigger script in the middle of the lid so that it shows when the piano is being played, and just underneath the music-holder. Can anyone tell me anything about it? I am about to give it away and wonder whether it actually has any intrinsic value.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Bill Kibby »

The fact that it is "Ltd." suggests a date after 1910, but I have no record of any Barnes numbers anything like as big as this, unless you typed too many digits. London W.1. suggests a date after 1916. Barnes pianos were made by several factories and cannot usually be dated by numbers. Kirkwood is probably a made-up name, or a retailer, although Barnes was a retailer, so perhaps Kirkwoods sold it secondhand. As for value, you will have to ask your tuner, nobody can guess without tuning it.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Annfromcamberwell »

I came across this forum by accident as I was thinking about my childhood and was remembering Barnes Pianos.
I was born in camberwell and lived at 28 Shenley Road and at the back of the garden was a big brick wall which belonged to the Barnes piano factory. It was the back wall the a hen house and later budgie cage.
I remember as kids we found a way into Barnes factory and we would play on the pianos.
This was in the 1940s or 1950s. I've always loved piano music but never learned to play, although I can tap out part of the Eastenders theme.
I went onto Google maps to see if the factory was still there, which it is, or at least part of it and it looks like it's been converted into apartments.
It was nice to find people talking about this, such good memories. Thank you.
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by Paulbarnes »

Hi all, I’ve picked up a Barnes piano and since realised it’s not a coincidence that it has the same name as myself as my great uncle says we are descended from the piano making Barnes family but isn’t sure exactly who there were to us. He even had a box of piano bits left to him from the company. Did anyone on this string get to the bottom of it and if so please contact paulbarnes888@gmail.com.

I tried Sally’s number but it’s changed.

Thanks!
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Re: W H Barnes piano maker

Post by De De »

Hello everyone.
I have one question, if you could answer me I would be very grateful.
I have a W.H.Barnes piano. Can you say something more about the piano? Does it have any value? pictures are here.
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