Work in progress – Cadburys (Barber) Machines

The Cadburys machines I’m going to show you today, that I’m currently working on, usually state the manufacturer as ‘BARBER WESTON LIMITED’; the WESTON in the title is in fact Weston-super-Mare which is where Rose Cottage are based. From the little information available, it seems the factory was at its peak during WWII, a sheet metal / forming and fabrication type of place, presumably supplying the nearby aero businesses, of which there were many, the history of most being far better recorded. Owned by a Mr. Barber, the post-war machines side of the business must still have been fairly large though, as they also did work for the Post Office, possibly by extension casings and racks etc… for the GPO, and from reading various philately sites some of the machines were conversions of Victorian era stamp vendors which appear to be effectively ‘gutted’ internally other than the fancy casings. However, in an aerospace manufacturing history book mentioning Barber which you can read freely via Google Books, the machines, perhaps understandably barely get a mention, although the final activity of wheelchair manufacture, which continued until relatively recently at a Northern site, did. The Weston site, which for fruit machine enthusiasts couldn’t have been too far from Brenco’s factory, is one where very little happened apart from being the cold war era site of the helicopter manufacturer, Westland, where as the eighties approached, they first downsized with peripheral off-site factories such as blade manufacture closing, and then complete closure around 2003. After the usual interim sub letting of various buildings and plots of land from the former factory, now the land in question is rapidly being turned into hundreds of houses and a bypass-to-the-bypass, apart from the odd bits that have been listed as part of the original airport.

Going back to the machines after that slightly long diversion (sorry!), it has to be said the later ones I’ve seen, with the long coin plate, have an interesting approach to coin security, using proper coin mechanisms made by an external maufacturer, mechs that have carried on in production in one way or another to this day for simple applications such as hairdryer and salon timers etc… and are readily available to buy from Italian and Japanese manufacturers. The multi coin units seem very sophisticated (and fiddly) compared to many.

As above, I don’t know for sure, but I think manufacturing wound up in the late 70’s; by then, they were making wheelchairs and I believe both the brand (which wasn’t Barber) and the manufacturing of these chairs moved up North at some point, I think the wheelchair company itself has only recently ceased trading though. As for the Cadburys machines, I think I’ve also seen them in slightly different configurations for Nestle [large plastic window at the top] though the otherwise similar looking bubblegum machines with round edges were unrelated and made down the road in Bath. It seems that they carried on being made in Bristol by BDR who also made machines for the Post Office and a large amount of Tobacco machines for the Bristol based firm of W.D. & H.O. Wills, later rolled into Imperial Tobacco. I’m only assuming this though, because it’s what seem to be the newer machines that have this BDR badge… Perhaps it was the other way around – but I’m not convinced easily! I imagine these machines carried on being made until the early 1980s, and in service until the mid 1980s going by some of the pricing (I’ve never seen anything more than 20p) at which point I assume the UK changed almost overnight to electronic multiple product, multi coin vending, which the US had had for many years previously, even in the mechanical era.

Today we took two such machines with the view to making them look a bit more like their old selves. Unfortunately I didn’t really think about taking a proper ‘before’ picture, but here are the two machines after a coat of paint:

A stripped down and cadburys purple vending machine
Starting to look good in Cadburys purple; as you can see all the windows and coin bezels have been removed for painting.
A stripped down and cadburys off-white vending machine
A slightly off-white, white, for this machine – I think it looks better even if not completely original, and avoids the ‘washroom machine’ look!

Finally, I just thought I’d give you a quick preview of just one of the new stickers I’ve had made up;

The multi-vend machine I have never seen anything like before, it’s a traditional ‘pull drawer’ type, but obviously designed to take the usual special vending sized bars and stickers. Was it another Barber product? I’m not sure, perhaps we will never know!

Thanks for reading, and keep a look out for the 2 machines above, in their finished state ready for sale.

Update: Just thought I would share with you the nearly-finished result.