About Us

The Barbour story

Barbour is the oldest and best known provider of specialist information services to industry professionals. The main objective of the company has always been to provide professionals with the information they need to do the best job for their customers.

Whilst Barbour (originally known as Barbour Index) was officially formed in 1957 it does have much earlier beginnings in a company called Architects Classifile which started as early as 1941 in order to answer the desperate need for information faced by wartime architects and engineers in London.

In 1957, Bobby Barbour (brother to Patrick Barbour) formed a company called Architects Specifile. The company was based on collecting manufacturers trade catalogues and storing them in a filing cabinet.  The catalogues were delivered by ladies on bicycles who visited the architects, in central London only.

In 1958 Patrick Barbour joined the company for a limited period of 2 years whilst he decided what he actually wanted to do and Barbour Index was formed. Shortly after this Bobby left the company and Patrick took over. The rest, as they say, is history.

By the mid 1960’s the bicycles had been replaced by red minis, driven by young ladies in mini skirts who were employed to maintain the tailor-made Barbour Index Product Library services. Microfiche was introduced in the late 1970s to provide comprehensive technical and product information.

Through the next two decades Barbour Index developed into the principal supplier of technical and manufacturers product data to the country’s construction industry. It floated on the Stock Exchange in 1987.

The Heath and Safety Microfile was launched in 1980, followed by Environmental Health, Fire and Safety, Food Safety, Environmental, Water and Trading Standards.

In 1997, Health & Safety Professional was launched, followed by Food Safety Professional, Environmental Professional and Trading Standards Professional firstly as a CD based service, followed shortly by an online product.

In 1999 Barbour Index was sold to Havas (UK) plc, and later, in 2002, was sold to Aprovia (UK) Ltd. In July 2003, Barbour Index was sold to CMP Information, part of United Business Media.

Barbour today

In 2008, Barbour Index became known as Barbour and began to solely focus on the providing information to the Health and Safety Industry.

Barbour now forms a key part of UBM’s  Occupational Safety and Health division and serve the industry alongside products and services such as SHP, Safety & Health Expo, Facilities Show, Service Management Expo, IFSEC International and FIREX International.

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