Barker Bros Group
On May 15th, 1949, Ben and John Barker set up business together as jobbing builders, with Tom (who carried on with his own job during the daytime) keeping the records in his spare time. Their equipment consisted of a few small tools and one hand barrow and their first contract was painting a house, for which they were paid £4 and given two second hand ladders. After the first few years Tom came into the business full-time – as the labourer!
At first their yard was at the family home, 84 Bexwell Road but as the business grew, they moved to the Swan Hotel yard, then to the old Co-op Coal Yard in Paradise Road (now the site of the offices of Downham Town Council) and finally in 1962 to the present premises at The Green.
In 1960 Ben Barker left the firm to start up a business on his own.
During the sixties the company expanded to a size where they were completing a hundred houses per year.
On the back of this success Tom and John diversified into other fields as the opportunities arose. By the early 1970’s they owned a builders merchants (with a branch at Littleport), a ready-mix concrete business; a sand and gravel company; a farming operation; a launderette and holiday chalets in addition to the building business.
During the late 70’s and early 80’s a deliberate decision was made to exit the house building market and to concentrate on the commercial property element of the enterprise
Today the company has a varied portfolio of commercial property interests, and has retained the builders merchants – Barkers DBS, a successful hardware & DIY store, the farming operation and the laundrette.
Having seen the 20th century out Barker Bros Group is now in the second generation of family ownership and looking forward to its 70th birthday in the 21st century.
John Barker & Tom Barker
Originally opened in 1964 to sell fireplaces to clients purchasing houses, Downham Building Supply Co, quickly expanded to sell all the items that a builder could require to build a complete house. As the sister company left the housing market Downham Building Supply Co (now a limited company in its own right) and trading as Barkers DBS, morphed into a hardware store, for both the professional builder and the home DIY enthusiast.
Situated in Downham Market at the end of High Street where it becomes London Road, the Washerteria is a self-service laundrette.
Open from 6:30am to 8:30pm with ten washing machines, a heavy duty washing machine capable of taking the largest quilts and six tumble dryers the Washerteria celebrates its 50th birthday in 2017.