posted in: PORTLAND | 1

England, 1950s

This lightly smoked pipe was obtained together with a large collection of pipes from the 1950s, which included also a number of Guinea Grain and Olde Wood pre-transition Barlings (currently being enjoyed the by new owners). And in fact, this pipe has something common with Barling as well.

From the perspective of our 2020 Portland Pipe Co Ltd is an almost invisible and unknown manufacturer. We didn’t find so far any data, when exactly and by whom namely the company was founded, but we know that it did work yet before the WWII. Their legal address was 7-8 Jeffrey’s Place, London NW1. It’s the area in London, in Borough of Camden at the north to Regent’s Park and Camden Town – nowadays a highly popular area of fashion and entertainment, but until the middle of the XX century “Camden Town was considered an “unfashionable” locality”. (By the way, many of you may know one of the Hardcastles family period’s series named Camden), The old red brick building has currently a blue inscription “B. BARLING & SONS” under the roof. That’s very intriguingly, because Barling’s address indicated in brochures from the same period was 9, Park Str. (what’s about 6 miles from Jeffrey’s place).

Pipedia says also that “By 1970 … two Barling factories at Park Street and Jeffrey Place were closed down and the production of Barling pipes was outsourced to independent pipemakers”. So at that time the building on Jeffrey’s place was owned by Barling and was used as one of their two production facilities.

There are only a few Portland brands, which we could read about today and they have some difference in manufacturer’s stamping (COM): “Port Royal” (described on pipedia as a “Brand of the Portland Pipe Co., and later a sub-brand of Barling”), “Londoner” with an unusual flat wide stem similar to Sasieni’s fantail, “Lord Beaverbrook” (stamped also Portland Pipe Co. BB&S Ltd.), represented by Pipephil BB&S series with the stamping “PORTLAND PIPE Co \ BB&S \ LONDON ENGLAND” and “John Peel“, our today’s pipe, which is stamped “A Portland Pipe made wholly in England” without any mention of BB&S. The original pipe bag is inscribed “A Portland Pipe made wholly in London”, so it seems it was a kind of the company motto. Therefore we are pretty sure that pipes with the nomenclature “A Portland Pipe…” belong to the pre-Barling period. And when “After closing down of this company Barling produced some of its brands” (Pipephil) the COM stamping has been updated with the new owner name.

When did this pre-Barling period end? Some experts say the company was closed around 1960-1962, also according to them both companies had close relationships since late 1930s although Portland remained a wholly separate legal entity.

Thus we have here a very rare and very lightly smoked pipe made by unheralded Portland Pipe Co Ltd in London in 1950s before the company was completely acquired by Barling. A highly collectable pearl!

The pipe markings are “John Peel”, “34”, “A PORTLAND PIPE \ MADE WHOLLY IN ENGLAND”. The length is 14.4 cm (5.67″), bowl’s height is 4.6 cm (1.81″). External diameter of the bowl is 3.6 cm (1.42″), internal diameter is 1.9 cm (0.75″). The depth is 4.0 cm (1.57″) and this pipe weights 34 gr. Briar, vulcanite stem, no filter. It seems the previous owner tried to screw out the mouthpiece with pliers, there’s a light trace still visible near the button.

  1. vkpipes

    One of our customers commented today on this pipe. The message is very interesting and explains some points much better than we described:

    “… Portland pipes make up one of the great mysteries of London pipe making. No one knows when Barling bought Portland but most of us barling guys believe it was mid to late 30’s. I saw a reference once online using the year 1936 but this cannot be confirmed. Next, John Peel was for a long time thought to have been a shop but there is no evidence proving that. However, John Peel pipes were almost certainly made by Portland. What most of use want in a pipe of this type is a pipe made before 1962, when the barling family was let go by the new owners and the brand went into a downward spiral quality wise. Re Portland, a number of them have recently turned up as a result of a “garage find” of a batch of pipes from the Toronto Canada area and they were mixed in with other wood from the 50’s and that seems to indicate a 50’s date of manufacture.
    Note: in those days several of the larger pipe makers made pipes or just bowls for other brands and these were mostly Charatan, Comoy and other makers such as Orlick. What is almost certain is that never did barling make / sell any pipes that were not carved by barling carvers untill after 1970. So, Portland and Peel were never actually barling made, these pipes were either made by Portland in house or, in later years past 1962, by Charatan and others. Also, if one looks at the style of the bits it evident that Portland and Peel pipes were not made that long ago, probably 50’s and 60’s unless there is a BB&S stamp which indicates post 1970 age (the & symbol being the give away since B.B.S was used in the older pre 1962 era.)
    Just some info for you to keep in mind. This info is only important since it relates to the probability that these pipes were made from Algerian briar – which is itself debatable … “

Leave a Reply