When Mike Barnes and Nick Green set up Greenbarnes in 1987, they hadn’t intended to manufacture noticeboards.
An interior designer by background, Barnes’ intention was to build houses, which they did successfully for a very short time before being thwarted by the financial crash of 1990 which brought the property market - and Greenbarnes - sharply to its knees.
Around the same time, Barnes went along to a parochial church council (PCC) meeting in his village where they were looking for someone to mend their noticeboard. which had gone rotten. Back then, noticeboards were made by the local carpenter, who may never have made one before, and they certainly weren’t made to last.
Long lived product
“We could turn it into a designed product, I thought,” recalls Barnes. “If we spent some time and energy looking at the detailing of it, we could come up with a far more long-lived product. We are probably the people who took the church or village notice board from something randomly produced by carpenters, to becoming a properly designed product. And it was all born out of complete desperation.”
So in 1990, Barnes and Green, who continue to work together today as Greenbarnes, (a member of the National Churches Trust's Professional Trades Directory) started to make hardwood noticeboards out of oak for churches and parish councils.
After some success, they progressed from hardwood to recycled plastic, known as “man-made timber”. It was “another eureka moment,” says Barnes, when he discovered a company in the West Midlands had just started making a kind of plastic which looked just like wood. This meant they were able to produce noticeboards which looked authentic but were far more durable, and maintenance-free. They also now make aluminium noticeboards, which are similarly durable. While oak remains popular, especially with churches, it does require that little bit more maintenance.
Noticeboards, signs and poster cases
Today the firm, a team of seven based in Brackley, Northamptonshire, makes a range of products for churches, schools, local councils and others. Their range includes noticeboards for both internal and external use of different shapes and sizes, signs, combined signs and noticeboards, as well as poster cases and incumbents boards.
Aside from a large range of standard designs and sizes, they are also happy to take on bespoke projects. Often when it comes to church projects, Barnes says, a member of the parish council may have some design expertise and want to work closely with Greenbarnes on the project. In fact, they are currently working on a church project in Croydon which is being driven by an architect member of the congregation.
Oak or aluminium
Whether a client chooses to have their product made in oak, man-made timber or aluminium is completely up to them. Prices don’t vary enormously either, although aluminium does tend to be slightly cheaper simply because it is mass-produced.
Recent examples of what churches have gone for (pictured below in the photo gallery) include St Paul’s, Deptford, which went for a bespoke sign/noticeboard combination in aluminium painted red. St Michael and All Angel, Beaconsfield, on the other hand, went for a three-bay notice board in man-made timber with an open centre bay containing a sign panel for permanent information.
Noticeboards and signs start at around £300 and go up to around £4,000, depending on the size, the material and the intricacy of the design. You can find out more on the Greenbarnes website which allows you to build your noticeboard from scratch, pricing everything up as you go along.
Profile by Olenka Hamilton
|Areas of coverage||United Kingdom|
|Contact name||Andy Brewer|