Barnes Group History | South of England | FG Barnes

The Barnes Group - a tradition of excellence

Our company had an unlikely start back in 1899 - specialising in tar spraying machines!

Whilst working on a project at Petworth, young engineer F G Barnes heard of a small business for sale in Godalming. The first few years of business saw mostly maintenance of the local council's steam road rollers, but then the business began to grow.

Due to his engineering skills, F G Barnes became involved in the maintenance of the new ‘horseless carriages' beginning to appear on the scene. The roads at the time had very different surfaces to the tarmac of today, and Barnes became involved in inventing a machine to spray and brush liquid tar on to a stone road surface. The machine could bind the stone particles together to form a dust-free surface, which was quite an innovation at the time.

The engineering and car businesses grew and grew and after World War One, diversified into hire cars and a driving school. In 1920, Barnes got the agency for Vulcan cars and commercials and formed the first link with General Motors by becoming a Chevrolet dealer. By 1922, both sons joined the business and in 1936 they opened the site at Guildford.

During the Second World War, the premises were taken over by the War Office to repair Churchill tanks, and the Godalming depot produced munitions for the war effort.

The post war years saw the passing of F G Barnes, so his two sons then took over the company and continued to supply Vauxhall and Bedford vehicles. In 1971 larger premises were sought in Slyfield Green, and so the industrial estate expanded.

The grandson of F G Barnes continues to run the business. Over the years, further franchises have been taken on, and we now offer multiple franchises on multiple sites - a far cry from the original one man business set up all those years ago!

However, we can confidently say that our business has been built with care, over many years and we are proud of - The Barnes Group - a tradition of excellence