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.