South Shields Local History Group

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Barbour, Margaret

Early Life

Margaret Davies was born in February 1940, she married John Malcolm Barbour in 1964.  His ancestor John Barbour established the family business of J Barbour & Sons in 1894.  Her husband John Malcolm died in 1968 and Margaret took over as Chair of the company in 1972, a position she has held ever since.


Barbour’s traditionally made oil cottoned suits for seamen, motorcyclists and submariners.  Margaret is credited with reinventing the firm to have a wider appeal.  From the 1980s waxed cotton jackets became very fashionable with the hunting and shooting fraternity and upper-class people generally.  She then exported the brand to over 40 different countries making Barbour’s and internationally recognised company. Her daughter Helen Barbour is Vice Chair.

Barbour factory shop 2022


Margaret set up the Barbour Charitable Trust in 1988, the Women’s Fund in 1999, The Nancy Barbour Award in 2000.


In June 1991 Margaret Barbour was honoured with the award of Commander of the Order of the British Empire for services to industry. In 2001 she was awarded the title Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in the New Year’s Honour’s List.


Terry Ford

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